6/7/2004

 

Ranch process shows city needs all types

 

I guess it takes all types to make a city work. I find it interesting that in Prescott's recent near-misadventure it was some of Prescottís more unconventional members that saved it. The city nearly rushed into buying the CV and CF ranches. Each time important new considerations surfaced it was this unconventional group that brought them up. The term "outsiders" doesn't really fit because these are citizens and very involved in Prescott. On the other hand they are not people you'd think of as being part of some "good ol' boy" network.

 

It was George Seaman, working to protect the Upper Verde watershed, who pushed for the council to have a public discussion well in advance of the purchase instead of waiting till the very last. Some on the council questioned doing that because they wouldn't have all the information ready by then. George had to clarify that he wasn't so much asking for the council to give information as he was asking them to listen to useful input various citizens might have.

 

It was Howard Mechanic, who describes himself as a "citizen activist", who pushed the issue that no appraisal had been done. When an appraisal was done it came in $7 million less than what the city was about to pay.

 

It was Richard Aberdeen, who's foundation helps the homeless and hungry, who pointed out that the city could get the ranches for the appraised price by eminent domain. Further, that they really only needed the CV ranch. And when these and other options had become apparent, yet they seemed determined to stick with the original deal, Richard noted that reasonable people would be wondering why they wanted to stick with a less than optimum option.

 

Finally it was Daiton Rutkowski who pointed out that the city had received a better offer years ago and that maybe if they had gathered more input they would have known that. Daiton is certainly not an outsider but he can be unconventional and has not been in city government for some years.

 

There may be some who don't care how Prescott grows as long as they can cash in on it. This is probably more a case of good intentions not well thought out. But that's one of the points to be learned here. It's not just that one bad decision was almost made. It's that the process needs work. It's the mode of rushing forward with blinders on that will just lead to other bad decisions. That may yet happen, since itís an open question whether water can ever be pumped from this area given the likelihood of suits based on harm to the Upper Verde and the water interests of those down-river.

 

The other point is that Prescott is a diverse group: Business people of various philosophical bents, ranchers, environmentalists and activists, and others. This was a good example of the value of them working together, even if in this case it was reluctantly. They might as well respect one another and work with one another because they all care about the area, they've shown they all have something valuable to bring to the table and they're all in it together.