Sun, Sept. 22

Prescott issue an exact mirror of problem confronting Cottonwood

Hmmm, where have we heard this one before?

Across the mountain in Prescott, city officials are in a quandary over the efficiency with which they deliver municipal services.

Prescott City Hall was dedicated in 1964. Over the years, the city has expanded operations to different buildings in different parts of town.

Last week, The Daily Courier in Prescott reported, “If ‘one-stop-shopping’ is the ideal for municipal business, officials say Prescott City Hall is falling a bit short.

“In fact, a prospective developer or home builder might be required to deal with the city’s community development, fire, legal, and public works departments — each of which is located in a separate building, spread throughout Prescott.

“Add business with the police department or city court, and the varied locations grow even more.”

The problem is a familiar one for officials in Cottonwood.

City Hall and some other Cottonwood services are in Old Town. Some are on Main Street leading into Old Town. Some are on Mingus Avenue. Others are on 6th Street.

Cottonwood has been in its present City Hall since 1978. The building formerly served as Cottonwood’s Post Office and City (then “Town”) Hall was next door in what is now the Business Assistance Center, a building that originally served as a two-bay fire department for Cottonwood.

Since at least the mid-1980s, city officials have touted the need for a new City Hall. In the mid-80s when the local LDS church relocated to its present location on Hombre Drive, the City Council gave careful consideration to relocating to the former church building on Mingus Avenue that is now home to Westcott Funeral Home.

In the ‘90s, former Councilman Mike Gardner pushed for construction of a new City Hall on 6th Street, where the library, recreation center, police and fire departments now reside.

The vacant land across from Hog Wild on Main Street was also at one time viewed as the site for a new City Hall. Ditto for the old ballfields behind the current city hall that serve as the venue for Cottonwood’s seasonal farmers market.

Today, the emphasis is on the “Rough Cuts” building on Main Street leading into Old Town. Mayor Tim Elinski has strongly advocated for the city to purchase the building from Northern Arizona Healthcare. It’s uncertain he has the council votes to make that happen.

What we do know, though, is like Prescott, Cottonwood believes the community is best-served by consolidating many of the city service centers into one building.

“Not all of those would be consolidated such as public safety, library, rec center, etc.,” said Bartosh. “However, we would try and consolidate as many of the public service counters as possible into the new building to include utilities, permitting, plan review, business registration, business assistance center, public information, etc.  The goal is to reduce the number of locations that a citizen would need to visit to get whatever they needed from the city.”

In other words, one-stop shopping.

As the city continues to debate the subject, here is something to consider when comparing Cottonwood’s situation to the one in Prescott.

Prescott’s current city council chambers will hold 150 people. City officials would like to see that expanded to 250 people.

Cottonwood, by comparison, has a maximum capacity of just 50 people in its council chambers.

Over the years, in anticipation of large crowds showing up to meetings – think back to the fights over Thunder Valley Rally – Cottonwood council meetings have been moved to the former Civic Center or in more recent years to the City Rec Center.

Depending on the volatility of the issue to be debated before the Cottonwood City Council, council meetings are a game of musical chairs.

We’re now entering a new era of city governance in Cottonwood. Two new council members have been elected and are now seated on the council. The city has selected a new city manager.

For more than 30 years, Cottonwood has talked about the need for a new city hall.

It’s time to actually do something.

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