Jan 282011

By Sam Conner —

The City of Winslow rated high in a recent chart of the State of Arizona Smart Growth Scorecard. State officials realize that planning for growth is imperative for the state and its subdivisions, cities and counties if they are to attract new businesses, industries and tourists. This was the reason for establishing the Smart Growth Scorecard.

Winslow City Manager Jim Ferguson said on Tuesday that the reason for Winslow’s high rating was that for the last four or five years at least, he and the entire city staff have concentrated on looking at the resources the city has available and planning on how to improve, obtain and market those resources. As a result, the staff has looked closely at its water and wastewater facilities, sewers, streets, the airport, city parks and a wide variety of assets available. They have planned how to protect and improve those resources, and how to be ready when an opportunity arises.

Winslow has obtained grants in recent years for the Renaissance Projects, which have resulted in many improvements to the streets, sidewalks and public facilities from one side of Winslow to the other. These projects are ongoing and improvement is happening daily.

The same is true with the Winslow Lindberg Regional Airport, which is constantly being upgraded. This may prove to be a real asset to the community in the future, as it is a facility that is usually approachable more easily and more often than many airports in the area.

Ferguson said that there are many who deserve thanks for the higher rating the city has received. The Winslow City Council has been supportive of the planning effort and deserves credit. The employees of the city also deserve a lot of the credit. Principal Planner Paul Ferris was at a meeting in Tucson the day of the interview furthering his training. He was said to be a major player in the extensive planning that has gone into many of the projects benefitting Winslow.

Planner Ahmed Abdullah works closely with Ferris, and has played an important role in much of the planning. Alan Rosenbaum has had a hand in much of the important planning dealing with water and wastewater projects. Water is a valuable asset for the city, and one Winslow must strive to protect and to use to its best advantage.

Parks and Recreation Director Scott Lancaster has done much of the planning for areas such as Vargas Field and the Little League Park. Engineer Mark Woodson is involved in the planning of many of the projects.

Ferguson said that while some of the work the city staff has done has been recognized and praised, other parts go almost unnoticed, but may prove to be of great importance in the future. He noted that the airport overlay received an award not long ago.

A more difficult project has been using the dredge at Clear Creek. To make this cleanup project work, basins had to be constructed to contain the sludge picked up by the drudge. This has been a time consuming and difficult project, but is expected to be of benefit when completed.

Planning is not an activity that brings immediate results in all cases. What it does do is give the city something it has available to use when an opportunity arises. If you have plans ready, your opportunity to get a grant or bring in a business is greatly improved.

Winslow has many assets that would seem to make it likely to grow in the future. That may not happen until the economy improves in both the state and the country, but those are improvements that officials at all levels are working to bring about. When that happens and the opportunity comes to attract new businesses and industries, the planning has been done.

When a business owner asks what the city has in many different areas such as water, recreational facilities and any manner of things, the city should be able to give a quick and accurate answer because of the planning that has already been done.

There are problems which must be dealt with.

Ferguson spoke much earlier about a study the Arizona League of Cities and Towns was going to do to prepare cities and counties to meet new obligations no longer funded by the state. He said that the league had decided not to do the study, and may have feared it would just give the legislature more ideas.

The city will continue to look closely at its assets and know what it can offer any business or resident who wishes to come here. It will also know what it has available to utilize any grant funds or other assets that might be gained. Planning remains the key. Know what you have got and what you need to improve.