Editorial: Thunder Valley Rally debate has gone on long enough; it’s time for city council to make a decision

The back-door politics of Thunder Valley Rally played like an Olympic-caliber table tennis match last week.

That little ball was bouncing all over the place.

Tuesday, Cottonwood’s Parks and Recreation Commission stalemated with a 3-3 vote on a motion to recommend the motorcycle rally continue on for another year in Old Town Cottonwood. That prompted commission members to wash their hands of TVR and kick it upstairs to the Cottonwood City Council to take up at the council’s next meeting Feb. 7.

But then, Mayor Tim Elinski told the Verde Independent a day later that he already had set the agenda for the Feb. 7 meeting and TVR would not be up for consideration.

He would later clarify that he had called for a closed-door working meeting between himself, the city manager and select Thunder Valley Rally committee members in hopes of building consensus between the planning committee and the merchants who adamantly oppose having the event in Old Town.

Another day goes by and Elinski reports that Council Members Kyla Allen and Deb Althouse have sponsored the TVR discussion item on the agenda for Feb. 7. So, as of now, the final showdown on TVR will be Feb. 7.

All of the discussions on TVR really boil down to three choices for the city council if indeed this issue is discussed Feb. 7.

• The council elects to continue the event in Old Town, which likely means we will again have heated, contentious, divided debates on TVR a year from now.

• The council chooses to continue TVR, but in a new location such as Riverfront Park. This option, according to several city staff members, would likely kill the event.

• The council decides to discontinue Thunder Valley Rally altogether, which would be applauded by many and make the council majority voting block on such a decision the subject of scorn by just as many others.

Thunder Valley Rally represents the kind of decision that politicians agonize over. No matter which way the ball bounces on this one, council members will make enemies. There is no win-win when it comes to Thunder Valley Rally.

But this is the job the mayor and city council signed up for. The TVR debate – which often has resulted in embarrassingly ugly exchanges by people who should know better – has gone on long enough.

It’s time to make a decision and move on.

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