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Friday Catchall: Dells activism strikes nerve for outsiders

Prescott third-grader Suli Sherman speaks to the Prescott City Council on Tuesday, March 26, in support of the Save the Dells organization’s position on open space in the Granite Dells. (Cindy Barks/Courier)

Prescott third-grader Suli Sherman speaks to the Prescott City Council on Tuesday, March 26, in support of the Save the Dells organization’s position on open space in the Granite Dells. (Cindy Barks/Courier)

The Friday Catchall:

• DELLS — It appears I have struck a nerve, stating that efforts to save Granite Dells have not translated into political activism. Specifically, four people are seeking three seats on the Prescott City Council, but only one is an “outsider.”

I have received no fewer than 20 emails about my June 14 statements, pro and con.

One, from “Joel,” said he is on my side. He points to when Jack Wilson was mayor, “the level of talent to emerge from the bowels of the populace” was impressive when Wilson formed the 2050 study groups.

Their task was to visualize how they saw their community in the future; they identified many needs and wants.

Joel adds that “perhaps a test of how much emotion you dragged up in your column would be the notice” in that same day’s Courier, “Prescott seeks applications from concerned citizens.” The deadline is July 13 after which we have an opportunity for “a measure of success.”

Is he going to submit an application? “My response is that — I didn’t come here to get active — I’m retired!” he wrote with a grin, a reference to people he knows who have said the same thing.

Side note, this is similar to what retirees sometimes say about school bonds, “My kids are grown, why should I pay?” My answers are that we all are members of this community, and someone before you helped the schools when you or your children were being educated. Sigh.

• CON — Another writer, “Bruce,” clearly disagreed with my call for activism, stating “The Dells are a great concern to many people. We should not be in this position.” He pointed to the prior open space initiatives (the first receiving less than advocates wanted spent — based on the wording of it; the second voted down by voters).

He added that “it is very hard to beat a well-connected and well-funded incumbent. If we had term limits on the City Council I guarantee you more people would run.” (There’s an idea for you!)

Bruce also reminded me that “the City of Prescott received $1 million from the state in this year’s budget … to help with retirement unfunded liability (PSPRS). A worthy cause but not more worthy than saving the Dells. The money is NOT ‘dedicated’ to one purpose so could be used to purchase the Dells property.” (Again, there’s an idea — though voters who approved the sales tax to pay down the pension debt might disagree with you.)

• TRUE OUTSIDERS — Finally, several writers told me many of the concerned citizens, who want to “Save the Dells,” live in Prescott Valley or the unincorporated areas of the county. (They cannot run for council.)

One added: “There’s also the consideration that many of the people moving here are tired. They have retired from stressful jobs and just want to take it easy and not get involved. They want to enjoy themselves and not be in the middle of controversy.”

I get it. Still, if we wait for someone else to get involved and make a difference — no matter the topic — it could be too late when we notice the effects are irreversible.

By the way, development of the Dells is not the only item the City Council has, is or will be working on. Is it a thankless job? Yes. However, what if you don’t like our zoning, two-hour parking downtown, roads, even dog ordinances? If you don’t run for council, then at least turn out for a meeting.

Considering that upwards of 1,000 people attended the March 26 council meeting (or tried to), all is not lost.

• PICK OF THE WEEK — (Proving there’s always something good to do in the Prescott area that’s cheap or free): Bluegrass, of course! This free, annual festival is downtown Saturday and Sunday; it starts at 11 a.m. each day on the plaza. Visit dCourier.com or prescott.org for more information.

Tim Wiederaenders is the senior news editor for the Prescott News Network. Follow him on Twitter @TWieds_editor. Reach him at 928-445-3333, ext. 2032, or twieds@prescottaz.com.

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