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Wed, Dec. 11

Prescott sales tax initiative secures $16M in open space purchases

PRESCOTT - When city leaders took a sales tax extension measure to the voters in 2000, they had specific goals in mind.

A priority list that circulated widely prior to the May 2000 special election included many of the community's most scenic areas: Thumb Butte, the Granite Dells, the Greenways along local creeks, Watson Lake.

It also included large chunks of Arizona State Trust Land at Glassford Hill and Badger "P" Mountain.

Over the past 11 years or so, the City of Prescott has made a number of open space purchases, using revenue from its 1-percent sales tax.

So far, the expenditures have totaled about $16 million. The purchases have included:

• $1.7 million in 2001 for 32 acres on the hill east of Thumb Butte (purchased from two different owners). Preservation of the land - known as Prescott Buttes - was the driving force behind the 2000 sales tax initiative for open space acquisition. Today, it serves to preserve the Thumb Butte viewshed.

• $352,678 in 2001 for the 25-acre Ericksson parcel in the Granite Dells area north of Watson Lake. Today, the parcel is the site of the city's Flume and Watson Lake Dam trails.

• $1.5 million in 2004 for 34 acres from the Storm Ranch for land along the eastern shoreline of Watson Lake.

The purchase price was the result of an eminent domain lawsuit that the city filed against the Storm Ranch in 1998 in an effort to preserve the shoreline of Watson Lake. Although the city had initially offered $374,000 for the parcel, a jury in 2002 set the price at $1.7 million. The two sides later settled on $1.5 million.

Plans are in the works for a portion of the Prescott Circle Trail to traverse the Storm parcel.

• $188,569 in 2005 for 28 acres known as the Payne land. The city purchased the parcel, which is along Granite Creek in the Granite Dells, from the Trust for Public Land after former owner Sherman Payne gifted it to the organization. The Central Arizona Land Trust holds the conservation easement.

The parcel currently is the site of a portion of the Watson Lake Dam Trail and the Flume Trail.

• $1.8 million in 2006 for the 18-acre Community Nature Center off Williamson Valley Road. The city bought the land from its long-time owner, the Prescott Unified School District. Volunteers and city employees recently restored and expanded the trails through the parcel.

• $905,281 and an associated land exchange with Yavapai County for the Prescott Rodeo Grounds and adjoining open space. The transaction, which also involved land that the county later used for its new Juvenile Justice Center off Prescott Lakes Parkway, occurred in 2007.

The open space currently is the site of a series of Rodeo Trails.

• $527,181 in 2007 for the 8.7-acre Hisakota parcel in Granite Dells, north of Willow Lake. The parcel currently is home to a portion of the Willow Lake Loop Trail.

• $4 million in 2008 for the 80-acre James parcel in the Granite Dells along Highway 89 near the Phippen Museum. The parcel is now the site of the popular Constellation Trail system.

• $3 million in 2008 for the 35-acre Granite Gardens/Hazelwood parcel in the Granite Dells. The property, formerly known as the location for the 400 Club, has recently been re-vegetated by Biozone, Inc. Work is under way on a trail system through the area.

• $182,443 in 2008 for the 1.5-acre Gardner parcel on the hill east of Thumb Butte.

• $365,687 in 2008 for the six-acre Green family parcel in the Granite Dells.

• $503,771 in 2008 for the 10-acre Granite Heaven parcel in the Granite Dells.

• $842,707 in 2009 for the 14-acre Beurie parcel near Willow Lake. The purchase brought the entire shoreline of Willow Lake into public ownership and allowed for the recently completed Willow Lake Loop Trail, which encircles the lake.

• $56,000 in 2011 for the 30-acre Westridge parcel, which is complementary to the city-owned open space and trail connectivity in Enchanted Canyon (formerly the Dalke land). The parcel is currently the site of the Centennial Trail.

• The city plans to spend about $155,000 of open space money this year for costs relating to the acquisition of easements for the Prescott Circle Trail. The section of new trail will cross Arizona State Trust Land between the Government Canyon area and the Sundog Ranch Road area.

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