By DAVID GREEN
Morenci city council members and a few citizens took a look at a revised layout for a parking lot rebuild project on the south side of the business district.
Although the meeting agenda listed the drawing as the final plan, council members listened to concerns about the project and took no action on approving the plan.
Noting that a state historical commission has not given its approval for the demolition of buildings, council member Tracy Schell asked what would happen if the former Grange building were not cleared for demolition.
Morenci mayor Keith Pennington said he’s reluctant to approve the plan until that decision is reached.
Pennington said he has some concerns about the way Orchard Street angles west toward Baker.
The space behind the fire hall is smaller than the existing layout and Schell wondered if the turn would be too tight for fire trucks. Councilor Art Erbskorn suggested placing traffic cones on the pavement to show the new layout and see what space is needed.
Audience member Tim Decker suggested doing that for the entire parking area.
Ron Shaffer, representing the Morenci Eagles club, said he favors removing the large area of landscaping proposed behind the club because it pushes parking out too far from the building.
“I really don’t see any use for it,” Shaffer said about the green island. “We’re pretty much a rural community and there’s a lot of pickup trucks.”
It’s easier to drive straight through the lot, he said, but Schell noted that’s something the design is trying to get away from.
Baker Street resident Kris Swartz said she was first told that Baker would be widened to the north, but she later found stakes that would take away about half of her yard. The residence is located close to the road.
“We were told one thing and then they’re doing something totally different,” Swartz said.
A final layout hasn’t yet been decided, Schell said.
The initial layout changed when surveyors discovered actual property lines, said city supervisor Barney Vanderpool.
Decker said that pharmacy owner Mike Broge is concerned about losing the use of his loading dock.
Discussion also included the possibility of adding parking on both sides of Baker Street along the fire hall, and also along the east side of Orchard Street where the Grange building stands.
After hearing several complaints about the green areas, Schell said, “Remember that we are trying to make it look better.”
“Don’t forget, it’s a parking lot,” Decker responded.
“It is, but it’s also the back of our downtown,” Schell said. “Making it look better is definitely a good thing.”
Pennington said that no one is going to look at the plan and think it’s the best approach.
“There are the interests of the people who live in the area, the interests of the people who work in the area, and the interests of the people that we’re trying to bring in,” he said. “It’s a balance.”