Morenci city council: NWD building 2009.08.26

In the future, as you’re slowly wending your way along the curvy road to the new recycling center and police station at the back of Wakefield Park, remember to think about public participation in local government—or the lack of.

It’s OK to offer a few choice words to city council members who never allowed you to offer your opinion before voting on the move, but it’s remained a hot topic at council meetings ever since and very few people opened their mouth or grabbed a pen to write a letter.

We might be completely off track to think that many people wouldn’t like the move. After all, one council member claims she’s heard nothing but support for the move and another said everyone she’s spoken with was entirely ambivalent. It’s fine with them if that factory building is converted into a police station, recycling center and storage area for city equipment. The inconvenience of the new location and the loss of potential job creation doesn’t matter. Besides, it’s the current recycling center that’s inconvenient, inadequate and in need of a bathroom, as the audience was told Monday night.

The issue will next return to city council on another vote to hire an engineer to draw plans for reconfiguring facility into its new use. That motion died for lack of support the last time it came up, but four council members appear to have the resolve it move it forward this time.

There’s a chance the project will come to an end if costs are determined to be too high. And if council becomes stuck on a decision about which way to go, they might want to know what the public thinks about the issue.

We think it’s wrong to convert the majority of a spacious, high-ceilinged manufacturing space into a storage area for Department of Public Works equipment. If that happens, we’ll be scratching our heads and wondering, “What were we thinking?”