VERDE VILLAGE – Area leaders stood before a seated crowd at the Verde Village Property Owners Association Clubhouse on Thursday evening to answer questions from residents regarding annexation.
Cottonwood Mayor Tim Elinski, Assistant City Manager Rudy Rodriguez, District 3 Supervisor Randy Garrison, and Verde Valley Fire Chief Nazih Hazime attended the question and answer session to provide information and quell rumors.
“I believe the meeting was informative and well received,” said Garrison when asked for his takeaway of the evening.
“My intent, and that of the rest of the presenters, was to answer questions and concerns in a forum where everyone had a chance to ask their own question yet hear the answers given to others. There were a lot of great questions, and I believe those who attended felt their time was well spent, and they now have a better understanding on the process that would need to take place to move the process of annexation forward. I believe they also now have a more thorough understanding of what possible advantages as well as disadvantages exist should they choose to make that decision,” said the District 3 Supervisor.
The forum lasted about an hour, and approximately 50 people attended. It was a respectful conversation.
The first question of the night focused on the process of annexation. Garrison explained that the process would consist of four stages. None of the stages would happen overnight.
If the annexation were to happen, hooking up to a sewer system would be required.
The rest of the evening narrowed in on this topic.
Verde Villages residents currently use septic tanks, some of which are 40 years old. They aren’t meant to last forever, and repairing them is costly.
Also costly is the expense of putting in a sewer system.
The exact cost of this will be unknown until an engineering study is done. Verde Villages residents will be informed of a rough cost estimate of the system before they decide that they want to annex.
“I think these types of conversations are really important,” said Elinski at the end of the question and answer session.
Elinski was born in a small rural town north of Payson, and said he knew it was like to grow up in an unincorporated area.
“So I understand. Annexation - you tense up a little bit - and I get it,” said the mayor. “More than anything, I want to be a good partner.”
He told the Verde Villages residents that it is up to them - and only them - to make the decision to annex.
“If it makes sense, then let’s talk about it. If it’s going to make us a stronger community then let’s talk about it, and we might find a path to making it happen where it is beneficial for everyone,” he said.
“Personally, I look 25 years out in the future, and I think we’d be a much stronger community if we were together and united,” he added.
A future meeting
Friday, Garrison said the sewer and septic topic probably needs “quite a bit more thorough research and much more thought.”
“That being said, I believe there was a real interest in continuing to move forward with that topic so I will be reaching out to ADEQ to start discussions about the rules and what options we have to deal with considering a sanitary sewer system for the Verde Villages. This will not place any requirements on the area, just more information should there be an interest in moving forward with creating a sewer district,” he explained.
Garrison said he was impressed with the respect the audience showed to those who came to answer questions.
“I believe we have opened the door to more discussions with the City of Cottonwood leadership on looking at shared opportunities and creating mutually beneficial partnerships with the Verde Villages residents,” he added.
Rose Sperry, Vice President and Unit 3 Director of VVPOA had nothing but praise for the speakers.
“I think it was just excellent,” she said of the forum, adding that the residents were heard and their questions were answered.
“We’re not here forcing you, you have to make the call and approach us if that is what you want,” is the message the Verde Village residents received, said Sperry.
Fear among the residents have disappeared, said Sperry.
“Rumors were flying like crazy,” she said.
Sperry said she is excited about Garrison talking to ADEQ to get even more answers, and that Verde Villagea residents are looking forward to another question and answer session soon.