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Mon, Dec. 09

City: Study session will highlight progress in Granite Dells

Preservation of land in the Granite Dells, including the iconic Point of Rocks, is expected to be discussed at a special Prescott City Council study session on Dec. 12. Negotiations have been underway for months on proposed development in the Dells, and the meeting will highlight progress that has been made to date. (Cindy Barks/Courier)

Preservation of land in the Granite Dells, including the iconic Point of Rocks, is expected to be discussed at a special Prescott City Council study session on Dec. 12. Negotiations have been underway for months on proposed development in the Dells, and the meeting will highlight progress that has been made to date. (Cindy Barks/Courier)

The last time the Prescott City Council considered a Granite Dells development-related action, about 1,000 people turned out at City Hall for the meeting.

That was in March, 2019, and audience members largely went away from the meeting without the desired result.

Next week, the city will conduct its first public discussion in months on the proposed development in the Granite Dells, and officials say considerable progress has been made in the interim.

The city has scheduled a special study session for 5:30 p.m. Dec. 12 to update the public on negotiations that have occurred in recent months.

The meeting will take place in the Prescott Mile High Middle School’s Hendricks Auditorium, which has about 900 seats.

Noting that city officials have been meeting with developer Arizona Eco Development and the Save the Dells group throughout the summer and fall, Prescott Mayor Greg Mengarelli said he felt it was time to update the public.

“We’ve been meeting to try to come together on a deal,” Mengarelli said. “We’ve met about three times, and I’m very encouraged with the progress.”

That is a shift from February 2019, when city officials reported that negotiations had broken down because of a “divergence” of views between the city and the developer.

Then in March, developer Jason Gisi submitted a new map that showed about 250 acres of open space at and around the iconic Point of Rocks.

Even though city officials said the new map showed progress at the time, incumbent City Council members running for re-election later said they would not support the Arizona Eco Development plans for 250 acres of open space.

The Save the Dells organization has pushed for 500 acres of preserved land in the heart of the Granite Dells, and on March 26, 2019, the group asked the City Council to approve a resolution endorsing that proposal.

Despite the large crowd of Granite Dells supporters that overflowed onto the street outside city hall, the council ultimately rejected the resolution, voicing worries that it would bind the city to the 500-acre number.

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Preservation of land in the Granite Dells, including the iconic Point of Rocks, is expected to be discussed at a special Prescott City Council study session on Dec. 12. (Cindy Barks/Courier)

Still, city officials say they have been working with the developer to get closer to that number.

Mengarelli said this week that negotiations have nearly reached the 500-acre number. “That part of the negotiation is coming along really well,” he said. But, he added, “We’re not at a full agreement.”

The details of the continuing negotiations are expected to be at the heart of the Dec. 12 discussion.

“It’s been a part of our community conversation for a long time now, and I feel like the public deserves to have an update,” the mayor said of the decision to schedule the study session.

Prescott Community Outreach Manager John Heiney said the study session agenda is expected to include presentations by Gisi, City Manager Michael Lamar and a Save the Dells representative.

In a post on its Facebook page, Save the Dells stated: “Save the Dells has been working hard to negotiate a deal with the city and Arizona Eco Development to preserve and protect the heart of the Granite Dells, and now it’s time to share with the public where we are with the AED negotiations.”

The Mile High Middle School is located at 300 S. Granite St.

Noting that the middle school has limited parking available, the city is urging attendees to park in the public parking garage at 135 S. Granite St., which offers free parking.

Follow Cindy Barks on Twitter @Cindy_Barks. Reach her at 928-445-3333, ext. 2034, or cbarks@prescottaz.com.

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