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Fri, Dec. 06

2050 study looks to plan long-term

PRESCOTT - A committee effort that aims to look four decades into Prescott's future will get under way this week. Mayor Jack Wilson announced this past week

his plans to kick off the "Prescott 2050 Visioning" committee at 6 p.m. Thursday at the Crossroads Center at Prescott College.

The mayor's goal: To chart the course for what Prescott will "look like for our children and their children."

Spearheading the effort will be William E. Arnold, an emeritus professor of communications at Arizona State University.

Arnold, who has lived in Prescott off and on for the past 10 years, and full-time since 2004, previously headed a similar process in Scottsdale. That 1980 effort yielded Scottsdale's 2000 plan, of which Arnold said that community adopted about 90 percent within a year.

As Arnold foresees it, Prescott's 2050 Visioning effort would consist of about a dozen committees of 10 to 12 people each.

Wilson said the committees would target various topics, including economic development; guidelines for entrances to Prescott; consistent design theme for signage within city limits; comprehensive regional smart growth planning; senior and youth issues; downtown redevelopment planning; and sustainability planning.

Wilson hopes that the effort will attract a cross-section of the community. "Diversity of opinion on a committee like this is its strength," he said.

Arnold said the 2050 committee would immediately divide into the various sub-committees, which would meet bi-weekly to discuss their specific topics.

The entire 2050 committee likely would get together again only at the end of the effort, Arnold said, when members would work on prioritizing the recommendations.

Wilson said the 2050 group's findings would then go to him, after which he plans to decide which items would go on to the City Council. At that point, he added, the committee's findings would be just recommendations, and would need council approval to become policy.

Even though the council has not discussed the creation of the 2050 committee in public, Wilson said Friday that he previously met individually with each of the council members to give them a "heads-up" about what was coming.

He maintains that that procedure follows the requirements of the city code and the Arizona Open Meeting Law, because he has the right to appoint such committees without the official approval of the entire council.

"It's not a council decision; it's the mayor's decision," Wilson said of the formation of the committee. "The charter gives me the authority to set up mayor's advisory committees. It's black and white."

The committee should come as no surprise to the community, Wilson added. "I've talked about this forever, when I was campaigning," he said. "It's not something that boiled to the surface in the last two days."

Arnold said he became involved with the idea about a month and a half ago. "I wasn't involved with (Wilson's) campaign, but after he was elected, I wrote and asked if there was anything I could do," Arnold explained.

The 2050 study will draw upon existing city plans, Wilson said, including the Prescott General Plan.

Arnold said he expects all of the committee meetings to be open to the public. And Wilson noted that he plans for regular progress postings on the city's Web site, along with six-, 12-, and 18-month reports to the City Council.

Wilson is asking for applications from people interested in serving on the committee. He said Arnold would then screen the applicants and make the appointments. The study will take about 18 months to complete.

The address for Prescott College's Crossroads Center is 215 Grove Avenue.

Contact the reporter at cbarks@prescottaz.com

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