Morenci parking project: the inconvenience is temporary 2011.07.20

Written by David Green.

Morenci city administrator Renée Schroeder keeps a close eye on available grants and when she saw the words “parking lot” mentioned in conjunction with grant money, she was flabbergasted. She figures that was the first time ever that she saw a grant that could be used to improve an existing parking area.

She spoke with mayor Keith Pennington about submitting an application and city council supported the project. A good application package was created, and lo and behold, Morenci was chosen. About $600,000 in state funding was awarded, leaving the city to come up with $160,000. It was an excellent investment with that level of return.

And now the inconvenience is underway. Morenci’s south parking lots are going to be mostly out of service for up to seven weeks and parking is at a premium. The alley leading to city hall is closed. Baker Street will be closed. It’s a mess in that part of the city.

The project is described as a parking lot rebuilding effort and that is the focus of the work, but don’t forget the other benefits. Orchard Street will be widened north of LaGrange, and narrow Baker Street will expand to better accommodate traffic. All of that is in addition to a much-needed new parking surface, curbing and sidewalk at the back of businesses, and an overall more attractive area behind the commercial district with a controlled traffic flow and spaces for foliage.

We understand that not all business owners are satisfied with the plan, but we’re grateful they chose to go along with the project. They all offered easements onto their property to allow the design to be completed. They had the option of refusing—in effect, spoiling the effort by creating unusable, unattractive space—but none of them took that approach. 

Eventually the project will cross Main Street and the inconvenience will move to a new location when parking is created between Johnson’s Hardware and the Observer office. Our inconvenience in this office is an order to evacuate for a day while the Dunbar Auction building is demolished. We hope the inconvenience ends there, leaving the Observer office still standing strong without its neighbor built up against it.

Although the project is causing some headaches for merchants, keep in mind that all of the inconveniences are temporary. When the project is complete, Morenci will have much more attractive parking areas for customers to use when they shop at local stores.

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    WRECKAGE—Morenci Fire Department member Taylor Schisler walks past the smoking wreckage of a semi-truck tractor on the north side of the Norfolk and Southern Railroad tracks on Ranger Highway. The truck trailer was on the south side of the tracks
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    SCULPTORS—Morenci third grade students Emersyn Thompson (left) and Marissa Lawrence turn spaghetti sticks into mini sculptures Friday during a class visit to Stair District Library. All Morenci Elementary School classes recently visited the library to experience the creative construction toys purchased through the “Sculptamania!” project, funded by a Disney Curiosity Creates grant. The grant is administered by the Association for Library Services to Children, a division of the American Library Association.
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    LEONIE LEAHY was one of three local hair stylists who volunteered time Friday at the Morenci PTO Fun Night. Her customer, Aubrey Sandusky, looks up at her mother while her hair takes on a perfect match to her outfit. Leahy said she had a great time at the event—nothing but happy clients.
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    LEARNING THE ROPES—Kristy Castillo (left), co-owner of Mane Street Salon, works with Kendal Kuhn as Sierra Orner takes a phone call. The two Morenci Area High School juniors spent Friday at the salon as part of a job shadowing experience.
  • KayseInField
    IN THE FIELD—2004 Morenci graduate Kayse Onweller works in a test plot of wheat in Texas. She’s part of Bayer CropScience’s North American wheat breeding program based in Nebraska, where she completed post-graduate work in plant breeding and genetics.
  • Front.winner
    REFEREE Camden Miller raises the hand of Morenci Jr. Dawgs wrestler Ryder Ryan as his opponent leaves the mat in disappointment. Morenci’s youth wrestling program served as host for a tournament Saturday morning to raise money for the club. Additional photos are on the back page.
  • Front.bank.2
    SHERWOOD STATE Bank opened its Fayette office at a grand opening Friday morning, drawing a large crowd to view the renovated building. Above, Burt Blue talks to teller Cindy Funk, while his wife, Jackie, looks around the new office. The Blues missed the opening and took a quick tour on Tuesday. Few traces remain of the former grocery store and theater, however, part of the original brick wall still shows in the hallway leading to the back of the building. The drive-through window should be ready for customers later in the month.
  • Front.make.three
    FROM THE LEFT, Landon Wilkins, Ryan White and Logan Blaker try out their artistic skills Saturday afternoon at the Morenci PTO’s first Date to Create event. More than 50 people showed up to create decorated planks of wood to hang from rope. The event served as a fund-raiser for miscellaneous PTO projects. Additional photos are on the back of this week’s Observer.

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