Sun, Nov. 17

Cottonwood makes strategic plans

City Attorney Steve Horton makes a point

City Attorney Steve Horton makes a point

COTTONWOOD -- The Cottonwood Council and its senior staff met for a full day last week, working through goals detailed in its strategic plan, updating some, deleting some goals and adding new ones. One addition would plan for a Cottonwood area convention center. Another would seek land exchange of a private forest in-holding to encourage area development.

Mayor Diane Joens says the strategic planning allows the council, administration and department heads a good opportunity once a year to meet together and talk over proposals.

The strategic planning initiatives include directives such as "build a strong diversified economy,' "achieve water adequacy,' and similar general concepts, but it also outlines specific goals.

A cost of growth study, for example, which would determine if additional revenues are needed to support growth is now scheduled for 2012 after being delayed through the recessionary period.

Old Town and city needs

Goals for Old Town in the past have included finding a new location for the unsightly Gardner's Recycling business and improving parking. The first goal is now completed and the second is advancing rapidly.

One goal has been to move toward a consolidated city hall. Planning notes confirm rumors that negotiations have been ongoing toward the acquisition of the Rough Cuts athletic complex near Riverfront Park that fell into bankruptcy during the recession before it opened.

Dan Lueder, the Development Services Manager told the meeting that the city is now drawing about 30 percent less water from the aquifer than the water companies did before the city acquisitions, thanks to city conservation initiatives.

Cottonwood's Administrative Services Manager, Rudy Rodriguez, is always looking for efficiencies, but he maintains this is not good time to refinance Cottonwood water bonds, with the decline in its bond rating.

Roadwork ahead

Work continues on the road rebuilding. Lueder says the West Mingus Avenue reconstruction will go out to bid "in a couple weeks." There is now planning that would make Mingus freshly paved from State Route 89A near Maverik to Main Street. The work would include the reconstruction on the west end through the old Clemenceau district with a new roundabout at Willard. Mingus would be repaved through 10th Street as well as the Community Development Block Grant reconstruction and drainage through the 10th Street area. Lueder explained that the city is also working with NACOG on another grant, which would complete the paving from 10th to the Main Street intersection.

Cottonwood has been undertaking "hot-patches" to potholes on 12th Street to give the busy road more life until rebuilding can start. With the council's direction to completely upgrade the road, Cottonwood is involved in a lengthy process of acquiring 39 rights of way for properties along the stretch.

The gathering continued last year's discussion about a single waste hauler that would also handle recycling.

Jesse Dowling told the planning meeting that Cottonwood should look at Clarkdale's model. The smaller town contracts with a single company for all trash and recycling hauling. The company, Patriot Disposal, now has a full processing system in Prescott Valley, which removes all recyclable materials from all its trash, not just the materials that is separated.

Mayor Joens notes, "We now have more recycling than ever now that Sedona Recycles has established dumpsters in various locations.

"We should have a single vendor for trash," Tim Elinski believes. "It is insane and a matter of civil liberty having to deal with all the noise from four different haulers all the time."

Karen Pfeifer warned that costs would go up if a monopoly were established in the trash and recycling business.

With monopoly on waste disposal, trash prices are going through the roof, argued Pfeifer, to which Lueder suggested the city has the possibility of starting its own garbage business.

Work continues on other quality of life issues, including Trails System planning and development. The Cottonwood council recently finalized an agreement to acquire an easement for the Del Monte wash trail that will run from Cottonwood Ranch to Old Town and also to take the lead to work with the Forest Service to develop a trail head and trails at the west end of Mingus Ave.

A convention center needed

Mayor Joens says the city has been discussing for a couple of years the need for a convention center to promote tourism for the Cottonwood area. The city has the Recreation Center meeting room now, but that is not large enough, even for the Primetime Fair. City administrators have talked in the past about a site between Cottonwood/Verde Village and Camp Verde to place a resort convention complex.

Casey Rooney, Economic Development coordinator, says, "It is a tough one, because it takes a ton of money.

"Before the economy tanked, we had the idea of an eco-type resort. Often, you go to a conference and end up in Phoenix in the middle of August. I think we need something that could attract a big crowd where you could also bring the family and they could enjoy sightseeing, kayaking, horseback riding and doing other things during sessions."

"You can go a couple of ways. One is a small facility that could accommodate a couple hundred people. The other is something like the El Conquistador in Tucson, 500 acres with space for 1,000 with all the amenities."

"These are dreams," Rooney says. "But Old Town was a dream five years ago and now something is going on every week."

Another goal is to give Cottonwood a "brand," says the economic development leader. A meeting was held with a branding expert this week to get that project rolling.

He cites recent placements.

"This month we were in Phoenix magazine, the Allegiant Air flight magazine, US Airways magazine. "It's all about Old Town Cottonwood, the river, the Wine Trail...but not just about Sedona."

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