Year in review: Top Clarkdale stories of 2018
From a new soil program to court co-location, here are some top Clarkdale stories of 2018.
Town Manager Gayle Mabery announces retirement
In July, longtime Town Manager Gayle Mabery announced that she will be retiring on July 1, 2019.
Mabery first took her position as town manager two decades ago. She was selected as the 2018 recipient of the Gabe Zimmerman Public Service Award in the Community Builder division for communities with populations less than 100,000.
Clarkdale is currently in the process of selecting a new city manager. They, like Cottonwood, contracted Novak Consulting Group. The town expects to begin advertising the position in February, 2019.
Ben Kramer steps down from council, vies for town manager position
Ben Kramer announced that he will not take the oath of office for Clarkdale Town Council in September as he vies for the town manager position instead, according to a news release sent out by the town.
This announcement comes after Kramer was elected to serve on the Town Council on Aug. 28 during the Clarkdale primary. He was originally appointed to serve on the council in September, 2017.
In an emailed statement to the Verde Independent, Kramer said his interest in the position for Town Manager came after many years of working closely with the Town of Clarkdale.
“We have a talented staff and seeing the teamwork and passion of the employees has convinced me that the Town of Clarkdale isn’t a typical employer,” he said. “Gayle and her department heads have worked to create a collaborative environment where all are encouraged to think of better solutions. Clarkdale is a small town in size, and resources can be limited, but it has been able to leverage great people to make a big impact. I want to be part of the team doing great things in Clarkdale.”
As far as the timing of the decision, Kramer said it came from a combination of factors.
“The retirement of Town Manager Mabery, the end of my current term of appointment, my reelection to a new term, the waiting period per Town code to be appointed, the upcoming planned presentations from the recruitment firms, and other factors had to calculate into my decision,” he stated.
Debbie Hunseder was appointed to a vacant Clarkdale Town Council seat during an October special meeting.
Also in July, Clarkdale entered an intergovernmental agreement with Yavapai County to co-locate the Clarkdale Magistrate Court and the Verde Valley Justice Court.
Verde Valley Justice of the Peace Bill Lundy was appointed to serve as Clarkdale’s magistrate.
In an interview with the Verde Independent, Town Manager Gayle Mabery said the co-location will increase efficiency for the court.
“The co-location is different than what people might assume when they think about consolidation of courts. We’re simply moving our court to that location,” Mabery said.
According to Clarkdale town staff reports, Clarkdale cases make up approximately 10 percent of the volume of cases at Verde Valley Justice Court.
Street repair bond fails in Clarkdale
Clarkdale voters shot down Proposition 445 in November sending city staff and leaders back to the drawing board as far as finding funds for street repair improvements.
The proposition was voted down by almost 70 percent, according to results provided online by the Yavapai County Recorder’s Office as of 8 p.m. Tuesday.
“We heard passionate positions on both sides,” said Clarkdale Town Manager Gayle Mabery. “We had a pretty good turnout at public forums. It’s a complicated issue.”
Prop. 445 asked voters to decide whether or not Clarkdale should incur a $6 million maximum in debt through sale of bonds to fund necessary street improvements in the town limits.
If the proposition had been approved, the debts would be paid back through a secondary property tax.
Mabery said the town won’t be able to put the question on the ballot until the next general election in 2020.
New homes in 2018
There was a resurgence in residential home construction in 2018, according to a news release by the Town of Clarkdale.
The town welcomed “more new homeowners in 2018 than they did in the previous four years combined.”
Most of the new construction is at the Mountain Gate and Crossroads at Mingus Subdivisions.
Outdoor venue behind Clark Memorial Clubhouse
The area behind the Clark Memorial Clubhouse became available to the public for venue space this year.
The space originally operated a community swimming pool until 2011.
“Building codes and handicap accessibility requirements at the time of the pool’s 2011 closure put the estimated price of reconstructing a pool in the historic location in the $400,000 range, and costs have continued to increase in the six years since those estimates were gathered,” according to a news release by the town
The costs compounded with instances of trespassing led the town to consider other ways to use the space.
This resulted in a view deck with a 500-person capacity viewing Sycamore Canyon, the Verde River’s riparian zone and Tuzigoot National Monument.
Clarkdale initiated soil remediation efforts, starting at the Clarkdale Town Park in March.
The Town Park is categorized as a “Tier 1” property under the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality’s Voluntary Remediation Program. The soil beneath the grass exceeded residential clean-up levels for arsenic and lead. After the park, the soil remediation program continued into private properties.
According to the town, at the end of 2018, 53 private properties were either under remediation or complete, with another 207 properties approved for grading permits.
In 2019, the Town of Clarkdale will take on the following issues:
• Reassessing priorities and funding for a sustainable street repair, maintenance and safety plan.
• Recruiting, hiring and transitioning a new Town Manager into the community, and reassessing organizational structure in light of other key retirements in the organization.
• A return of remediation work under the United Verde Soil Program, including numerous properties owned by the Town of Clarkdale. Design a Master Recreation Plan for the Selna Ballfield/Mongini Park venues in order to use the plan as leverage to apply for funding for various phases of the park development.
• Engage in an Economic Development strategy that promotes a strong and vibrant local economy while preserving Clarkdale’s history, culture and unique sense of community.
• Develop Water and Wastewater Infrastructure Expansion Plans and a Reclaimed Water Master Plan to guide the long-term strategies and decision making for infrastructure in the community.
• Define the process, goals, objectives and Public Outreach Plans for the development of the Town’s next General Plan, which will be presented to Clarkdale voters in 2022.
• Work in partnership with the U.S. Census Bureau to ensure every person in Clarkdale is counted in the 2020 Census.
--Information provided by the Town of Clarkdale