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Thu, March 21

Prescott City Council takes on downtown controversies

PRESCOTT - Downtown Prescott - including everything from cleanliness to parking and signs - will be on the table this week when the Prescott City Council meets for its latest caucus meeting.

The informal brainstorming session will take place at 3 p.m. Tuesday at Prescott City Hall, 201 S. Cortez St.

The agenda includes just one topic: downtown issues. But included under that topic is a wide-ranging assortment of 11 sub-topics, including signage, circulation, smoking issues, cleanliness, and parking.

Councilman Charlie Arnold explained Friday that the agenda stems, in part, from meetings that he and Councilman Chris Kuknyo conducted recently with Whiskey Row merchants.

"Chris and I had two meetings with the Whiskey Row Association," Arnold said.

After hearing the business owners' concerns, the councilmen worked with city staff members on some of the issues.

Along with the entire council, Tuesday's meeting also will include participation by other major players in the downtown.

Kuknyo said he expects Yavapai County Supervisors Rowle Simmons and Craig Brown to attend the caucus, as well as Kendall Jaspers, director of the Prescott Downtown Partnership.

"I'd like to see more of a group effort of everybody concerned," Kuknyo said Friday. "The county is right in the middle of the downtown."

Arnold said a number of issues have come up consistently in discussions with merchants. For instance, he said owners on Whiskey Row and at the Bashford Courts have voiced concerns about the cleanliness of the alleys.

"The Whiskey Row alley and the Bashford Courts alley get a lot of foot traffic," Arnold said, adding that although the city is directing traffic to the alleys, they are not always in the best condition.

The discussions between Arnold and Kuknyo and the Whiskey Row merchants began soon after last fall's discussion about renaming the 100 block of South Montezuma Street as Historic Whiskey Row.

Although council members voted against the name change in late November, they urged owners to pursue the name as a marketing tagline.

Arnold said that likely would be part of Tuesday's discussion - under the sub-topic of signage.

While other Arizona cities have effective directional tourism signs that lead visitors to the downtown areas, Arnold said, "We don't have anything like that in Prescott" - a deficiency that can lead to confusion among visitors.

The caucus meetings are a relatively new feature of council calendar. The meetings kicked off in February as a way for council members to informally discuss issues in a roundtable setting.

At the March meeting, council members asked whether they could put a general topic, such as "downtown issues" on the caucus agenda. City Attorney Jon Paladini advised them that the Arizona Open Meeting Law requires the agenda to be more specific.

Kuknyo said the inclusion of the sub-sections was intended to give the council the flexibility to have a broad discussion about the downtown.

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