Cottonwood leaders look back on 2016

Cottonwood’s new city council is ready to begin work for the community. (VVN/File Photo)

Cottonwood’s new city council is ready to begin work for the community. (VVN/File Photo)

COTTONWOOD – “The year 2016 was an amazing year for the city,” said Cottonwood’s former mayor, Diane Joens when asked to share an end-of-the-year recap about city progress.

Cottonwood City Manager Doug Bartosh said it’s been a year of politics for both the city and the nation.

“We have seen an almost complete change of members on the city council and a new mayor. Unfortunately, through the campaign there was much misinformation spoken and published about the city which probably damaged the confidence of some citizens regarding the management of the city,” said Bartosh.

He said the city will need to work extra hard this year to regain that confidence through even more transparency, and by encouraging citizens to participate in local government.

2016 Happenings

“Pushing aside the caustic influence of the election season, 2016 was a year in which we were reminded we can get more accomplished working together for the greater good than working against each other for individual interests,” said Cottonwood Police Chief Steve Gesell.

“This is evident in our fantastic community and has been refreshing for me and my family,” said Chief Gesell.

Some of the city’s 2016 accomplishments include:

-completing 12th Street with its sidewalks and bike lanes

-starting the Riverfront Reclamation Plant

-finishing the construction and remodel of the restrooms in all parks

-preparing for the replacement of Mingus Avenue from Willard to Main

-leading the region with water conservation projects

-reducing ground water pumping by over 30 percent

-having one of the lowest per capita daily gallons of use at 90

-refinancing water bonds that will save $8 million and reduce interest rates

-repairing water pipes, reducing leakage and unaccounted for water from around 45 percent to less than 10 percent

-completing the next five year economic development plan for the city, called Focus on Success II

-the rebirth of Old Town serving as a model for other municipalities across the state

-seeing investment and recognition of the wine industry

-partnering with local veterans to create the Verde Valley Military Service Park

-reducing the cost for a veteran to ride on the transit system

-expanding the after school program

-hosting recreational programs and facilities for young people

-continuing leadership roles in the SciTech Festival

-winning a $200,000 grant over four years at $50,000 per year to increase capacity of events

-Cottonwood Area Transit recognized as Outstanding Rural/Small Urban Transit System

-opening the Zalesky Trailhead

-developing the Verde River/Riverfront Trails Plan

-designing signage to create awareness of the river access point and the Jail Trail

-contributing to the Meals on Wheels program

-adding purple pipe to carry reclaimed water to areas throughout the city

-completing the Mickelsen parkway sidewalk

-working on a city website that is to go live soon

-investing in the airport with the Cottonwood Airport Apron Reconstruction project.

-welcoming new Police Chief Steve Gesell

-partnering with other organizations to create Cottonwood Cares

-encouraging donating to social service agencies through a public awareness campaign

-developing the Safe Shopper and Alternative Sentencing programs

-organizing the state’s second largest National Night Out

“This past year has also seen increased economic development in the city with several residential construction projects and many commercial projects. We anticipate even further development in 2017,” said Bartosh.

Focusing on the future

“It will be exciting to watch 2017 unfold with our new community leadership,” said Joens.

Cottonwood Mayor Tim Elinski said he is excited to hold a professionally facilitated strategic planning retreat with the council at the end of January. The retreat will include one day of presentations to the Cottonwood Council from a variety of stakeholders in the Verde Valley, and another day for the council to process the input and create strategies to move the community forward.

“I expect to get clear direction on policy objectives from the council at this two-day meeting which will frame our direction and define our workload for the coming year,” said Mayor Elinski.

“After the retreat my job will be to ensure we meet our collective goals, and I will also continue to focus on the priorities on which I campaigned, including working hard to increase collaboration across the Verde Valley, and engaging our community,” he continued.  

“We look forward to even more progress in 2017 as well as the challenges that will surely come our way,” said Bartosh.

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