Originally Published: October 2, 2011 10 p.m.
More than a decade ago, when the Yavapai County Board of Supervisors was considering approval of another statue on the courthouse plaza, board members made it clear that they wanted the grounds to always be a park for people to enjoy. They hesitated to turn the plaza into a "statuary," and that may be one reason no more statues have been erected since the "Cowboy at Rest" bronze took its place on the south side of the courthouse.
The stately courthouse is the heart of downtown Prescott and likely the reason people call the city "Everybody's Hometown." People walk its perimeter daily for exercise or just for the enjoyment of being out in the fresh air. Children frolic across the green grass, gleefully chasing balls. Friends sit at tables to chat, have a cup of coffee together or share lunchtime. Families throw down blankets for picnics under the shade of plaza trees. Some sit on benches and simply "people watch."
The famous bronze Rough Rider monument anchors the plaza's north side. People are fascinated with its huge presence and the story of fallen hero William "Buckey" O'Neill. The All Veterans Memorial graces the west side of the plaza, and a smaller monument honoring the county's veterans stands on the plaza's northeast corner.
The courthouse plaza plays host to 130 different activities - celebrations, commemorations, concerts, festivals and arts fairs - throughout the year, especially in the summertime. At Christmas, the courthouse lights up in splendor for the holidays.
Its north steps were made famous in 1964 when the late Barry Goldwater announced his candidacy for president of the United States there.
Indeed, the Yavapai County Courthouse is our town's focal point, and it made the spotlight again in 2008 when it was named one of the American Planning Associations Great Public Spaces in America.
In receiving this distinction, the award said, the courthouse plaza "exemplifies how citizen support, planning and design and grounds management and maintenance create a treasured urban space that is the center - both geographically and spiritually - of the community."
Dismay of late has arisen over "religious revivalism," drunkenness, tasteless attire, thoughtless dog owners and other behaviors that offend some.
Reflect on this, if you will, when you visit the courthouse plaza and look upon it as a place of respite for everyone to enjoy. Respect its dignity and the right of others to have pleasure there.
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