What would a visitor think of Morenci after an absence of 35 years? It would surely be a mix “Nothing’s really changed” along with “Wow, look at all the differences.”
In some cases, it would depend on where you choose to start your visit. Much of the residential neighborhoods show little change from 1979 when the city’s last Land Use Plan was created. A lot more decks in back yards. A lot fewer TV antennas. Many more rental units.
Many of the downtown businesses look the same, but so many gaps are showing. The old city hall is gone, along with the former Chappell Furnace Company. At least four gas stations are missing plus an automotive dealership.
There’s not a sign of Parker Rust Proof, and although the building is still in use, the name Morenci Rubber Products is nowhere to be seen. In 1979 there was a busy hospital serving Morenci, Fayette, Lyons and Waldron. Once again: not a trace of the original building remains.
So many of the changes could fit into the category “signs of the times.” Small towns no longer have hospitals. Auto dealerships are far fewer than in the past. Many industries have closed up shop. Railroad service is scarce.
Reading the 1979 planning document makes a person think about the past and ponder the future. Planning commission members are updating the city’s planning document for 2015, and what will people think about that in 2040?
You know what they say: The only thing constant is change.