Sat, Oct. 19

What is at the root of all this neglect?


There is hardly a day that my wife Pat and/or I don't drive down Mingus Avenue, Arizona 89A to Main Street.

Invariably, we are bothered by the neglect of many of the properties from the Maverik gas station to Willard Street.

An abundance of debris, not to say trash, around most of the dwellings that haven't seen a coat of paint in years, old cars parked helter skelter all over, no attempt whatever to control the growth of weeds and shrubbery in any way to make it the slightest bit attractive.

In other words, one ends up thinking of the area as a slum. One of the individuals running for a seat on the Cottonwood council, John Altizer, in a newspaper article discussed the issue of such neglected and unattractive areas in Cottonwood - and unfortunately there are quite a few others in addition to the one I mentioned.

I wonder what is at the root of all this neglect. What comes to mind first, of course, is poverty. The working poor most likely have neither the time, the energy nor the wherewithal to upgrade their property. In the case of rentals, and I suppose that applies to most of these properties, the owners probably don't derive enough income from them or simply don't care to spend anything on even the minimal upkeep. Then there are the elements of laziness and lack of pride. I am sure there are many people in Cottonwood who are most anxious to see these slum-like neighborhoods upgraded, one way or another.

Several remedies come to mind, all based on incentives. Property owners could be offered rebates on taxes, to be invested in improvements. Area improvement societies could be formed, similar to "Habitat for Humanity" with the purpose of raising money for materials and labor and/or organizing volunteer groups to refurbish homes in need of repairs. Civic groups and activities could be formed similar to those involved in the periodic clean up of Oak Creek Canyon.

The City of Cottonwood could establish partnerships with developers to buy up dilapidated properties and build attractive low-rent housing.

There is no question in my mind that if it came to a referendum, most Cottonwood residents would be in favor of upgrading these near slums.

Of course, it all would cost money and people don't like to shell out anything without tangible benefit to them.

But between genuine civic leadership and inspired volunteering some way could unquestionably be found. Sedona has maintained its very effective "Keep Sedona Beautiful" for years; perhaps Cottonwood could have its own "Make Cottonwood Beautiful."

Hans Lampl


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