Cottonwood: Past, Present, Future

Council, staff highlight significant events that have shaped city

In early January, Cottonwood City Council and staff participated in their annual retreat. Each year council and staff outlines goals and projects for the city.

One exercise asked staff and council to outline key events in Cottonwood’s timeline.

Here are some key Cottonwood turning points over the last decade:


• The Great Recession 2007- 2008

The so-called Great Recession marked a period of economic decline stemming from the housing bubble burst. Cottonwood and the Verde Valley were no exception in this nationwide devastation. Arizona officially matched its pre-recession employment levels in December 2015 – 19 months longer the rest of the nation’s, according to reporting by The Arizona Republic. Since then, businesses have returned to Cottonwood and Old Town has experienced a ‘renaissance’ of new businesses and tourism.

Council Member Michael Mathews noted that an important thing to focus on now is paying down debts and improving infrastructure

• Verde Valley Wine Trial is established – 2009

• New Cottonwood Recreation Center opens - 2011

• Cottonwood takes over Thunder Valley Rally - 2011

Cottonwood took over the annual Thunder Valley Rally biker festival. Much of the event formerly took place in both Old Town Cottonwood and Riverfront Park. This past year, it was held almost exclusively at Riverfront Park and hosted big names such as Rickey Medlocke of Blackfoot and Lynyrd Skynyrd and Johnny Lang.

• Cottonwood adopts new brand: ‘Heart of Arizona Wine Country - 2016


Cottonwood Community Clubhouse. VVN/Halie Chavez


Civic Center gets a makeover - 2017-2018

Cottonwood uses $300,000 in Community Development Block Grant funds to renovate the old civic center in Old Town. The total cost of the historical renovation has amounted to more than $900,000. The building has since been rebranded to the “Cottonwood Community Clubhouse.”

• Water Reclamation Facility up and running - 2018

The Riverfront Wastewater Reclamation Facility opened and became operational six years after being authorized by Cottonwood City Council. The facility recaptures 70 percent of Cottonwood’s water. Reclaimed water is pumped back into the aquifer or used for irrigating parks, fields and community gardens. It runs on 80 percent solar power. The project cost around $12.2 million to build. This large infrastructure project came with much controversy from the public over the delays, flooding concerns and cost of the facility.


Ron Corbin

• New City Manager for Cottonwood - 2019

Cottonwood hired a new City Manager one year after outgoing City Manager Doug Bartosh announced his retirement. Ron Corbin, who comes to Cottonwood from the City of Yuma is acclimating into his new role.

Deputy City Manager Rudy Rodriguez described Corbin’s start as ushering in a new chapter.

“The new city manager pumps new blood, new ideas and new leadership,” he said. Future

Council and staff concurred that Cottonwood’s future should be about solidifying its role in the Verde Valley and emphasizing a “pride in one’s community.”

Upcoming turning points may include a decision on a new city hall, development along State Route 89A and Vine and a new Cottonwood Trails and Recreation Masterplan.


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