Jerome must renege on partnership

Delays in selling land inside Clarkdale forces town to withdraw from partnership with historical society

After months of planning and holding public hearings to have a partnership between the Town of Jerome and the Jerome Historical Society approved, Jerome officials now believe they are being forced to withdraw from the agreement.

The partnership was formed to allow a portion of a grant from the Community Development Block Grant agency of the Northern Arizona Council of Governments to be used to renovate Spook Hall, Jerome's community center. Because the historical society is not a government agency, it must form a partnership with a government agency to be eligible to use CDBG money. The Jerome council held public hearings to demonstrate to CDBG officials how much public support existed for using the funds on the community center, which is owned by the society.

Al Palmieri, town clerk, said CDBG officials were favorably impressed with the town's support for the partnership and the input provided by town residents. A $200,000 portion of the $380,000 CDBG grant was to go toward renovating Spook Hall. The renovation was primarily designed to make the building, used for many years as the town's community center, safer and more accessible.

The $200,00 was originally earmarked to help with the completion of the Clark Street School. That building is being renovated to house a new city hall, library, youth center and several other public agencies.

The council decided that the $200,000 could be taken from the grant and devoted to the renovation of Spook Hall instead of the historical school building. That decision was made because the council expected to bring in more than that amount through the sale of about 20 acres the town owns inside the town limits of Clarkdale. But the sale was stopped because Clarkdale officials say the parcel owned by Jerome is precluded from further splitting. Clarkdale passed a lot-splitting ordinance in 1998 that it is applying to a 1997 sale of a portion of Jerome's land.

After months of negotiating with Clarkdale and finally deciding to develop the land through Clarkdale's subdivision process, Jerome officials now believe Clarkdale officials are intentionally delaying the sale of the land. Jerome officials say that Clarkdale officials promised them early in September during a special meeting in Prescott that the process could be expedited in about 120 days.

Jerome officials say that it is now apparent that Clarkdale does not intend to expedite the matter. In addition, Cottonwood Water Works has notified Jerome officials that Jerome must find a water source for the development. The water company will sell the water to residents of the development, but it expects Jerome to supply the water. The development of Jerome's parcel will likely result in no more than 20 single-family dwellings being built on the land.

Now the delays in getting its parcel sold has put the Jerome Town Council in a position that it feels it must renege on the partnership with the Jerome Historical Society to renovate Spook Hall.

Palmieri said that would effectively kill the deal to renovate the community center for at least three years because Jerome will not be eligible for another CDBG grant during that time.

Jerome is now about $40,00 shy of bringing the Clark Street School renovation up to the level that will earn them a certificate of occupancy. Once the certificate is received, the town will receive the $380,000 grant from CDBG.

Consequently, for want of a certificate of occupancy, the town council feels it is being forced by Clarkdale to withdraw from its partnership with the Jerome Historical Society.

The $380,000 CDBG grant was to be used as follows: $200,000 for the partnership renovation of Spook Hall; $35,000 for two fire hydrants supplied by fire-suppression-only water lines; $100,000 for replacement of sewer lines on Main Street; and $45,000 for sidewalk repair and replacement.

An estimated $490,000 from the auction of the Jerome parcel inside Clarkdale was required by law to be used for work on public buildings. It was to be disbursed as follows: $200,000 to complete the Clark Street School; $100,000 to renovate the Hotel Jerome for low-income apartments; $30,000 for the Gulch Fire Station; $20,000 for improvement to the town yard; $20,000 to remodel the old Town Hall; $10,000 for work in town parks; $10,000 for wetlands; $10,000 for the police station; $50,000 pay back to the town's general fund; and $40,000 for sewer lines.

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