Transitions are never easy, and it’s beginning to look like this region is entering one that has already caused a great deal of angst among residents.
There is a lot of new housing being planned, from Deep Well Ranch to Jasper. Large apartment complexes are on the way to deal with the demand for more housing, including the 214-unit Talking Glass complex across the street from the Event Center in Prescott Valley; the 160-unit Willow Creek Apartments in Prescott; and the 224-unit Hawksnest project in Chino Valley.
Residents are concerned where the water will come from all these people. What about the money needed for better roads? And then there are the jobs …
The Daily Courier’s Sunday business section has a story about those jobs, and it might help explain why there is such a push right now for new housing.
Business owners are telling us there are not enough trained tradesmen to fill the positions they have right now. In fact, one area business is hiring people who know nothing about plumbing, paying them a full plumber’s salary, and then teaching them on the job.
A few hundred years ago you had to pay someone to become an apprentice and learn a trade. Now, they pay you. And it’s not just plumbers who are in short supply, but many other fields as well.
Then consider housing in this market. Local officials report that occupancy at apartments in this region is at about 95 percent. That’s insane, and it explains why it costs so much for rent in this market.
So the demand for affordable housing is definitely there. Also, there is a huge need to fill jobs and businesses are going to unheard of lengths to do so.
This region is changing, it is going to get younger. More needs to happen. We hear many complain about the lack of things to do for young people in this town. We’re told that recent college graduates are finding it difficult to meet new people, including potential dating partners here.
The growth is coming because of the need. Water is still a big issue, one that needs to remain a priority. Instead of wringing hands and complaining about what looks to be inevitable, our efforts would be more productive if focused on how to manage that growth responsibly and ways to conserve our water supply.
There will still be bumps to overcome as the transition continues. But the Prescott region of today is different than it was in the 1970s, when Prescott Valley didn’t exist and Chino Valley had only 800 residents.
What it will look like in 40 years will depend greatly on the actions we take today.