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Sat, March 23

City pays $350,000 for Roadhouse 69 property

PRESCOTT ­ A high-profile parcel of land that has seen a string of businesses come and go is now in line to be the site of a new downtown fire station.

In a unanimous vote Tuesday, Prescott City Council members approved the purchase of the Montezuma/Sheldon property that previously housed a number of restaurants ­ most recently, Roadhouse 69.

The property, for which the city agreed to pay $350,000, will serve as the parking lot for the fire station that officials plan to locate on the adjoining public parking lot.

The purchase comes after months of negotiations between the seller, Babylon LLC, and the city. Fire Chief Darrell Willis told the council this week that the negotiations began about five months ago and involved eight counter-offers between the two parties.

In a previous closed-door executive session discussion, the council had authorized city staff members to offer between $375,000 to $425,000 for the property. Two weeks ago, the city appeared ready to move ahead with the purchase, at a price of $325,000. However, before a council vote could take place, questions arose between the two parties about the removal of the old fire-damaged restaurant building.

The new contract specifies that the seller would be responsible for removing the structure.

Willis noted, however, that the removal would not include the railroad trestle behind the building. "The metal railroad trestle will stay, but all the wooden improvements to the property will be removed," he said. "The Historical Society is very interested in leaving that (trestle) there."

Because the new fire station would front the city's existing Granite Creek Park, some questions came up about how the new station would affect the park.

Willis pointed out that he and Prescott Parks and Recreation Director Jim McCasland had already discussed the possibility that the fire station could help the park ­ perhaps by providing restrooms. In addition, he said, "Our presence there could help deter vandalism."

Local resident Laurel Freeman urged the council to use the fire station project as a means of enhancing the access to the park and the nearby Granite Creek greenway paths. "This is really an opportunity for the city to expand what's there," Freeman said.

However, Councilman Jim Lamerson voiced some concern about using money from the fire department project to improve parks and recreation projects.

City Manager Steve Norwood emphasized that the city had no plans to use the property for anything other than the fire station. He said, because the station would be adjacent to an existing park, the city likely would take that into consideration in the design of the new station.

City officials have noted that the new downtown fire station is necessary because the Central Yavapai Fire District plans to vacate its downtown-area Sixth Street station by the end of the year.

After the meeting, Willis explained that that step would leave "a big hole (in service) right in the middle of town."

The city determines the locations for its stations to serve a one-and-a-half-mile circle, Willis said. Even though it already has a fire station not far from the downtown area on White Spar Road, he said, it is not close enough to provide the necessary level of service to the busy downtown area.

The financing and timing for the fire station project will depend upon the public-safety sale tax increase that the city plans to take to voters in November.

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