On Tuesday, June 14, the City Council will hold a work session to discuss the future of the city-owned Mogollon Public Works Yard property (view this agenda item here). This property (located at 419 N. Mogollon) has been used as the city yard for many years is currently zoned as Public Facility. It was first purchased by the City as a part of Thorpe Park by a voter-approved bond in 1922, and was also designated as a part of Thorpe Park by a 1957 city ordinance.
Staff will be presenting three main options regarding the future of this property:
- Amend a portion of the 1957 ordinance which designated the property as a part of Thorpe park and sell the approximately 7+ acre property
- Retain the property
- Defer a decision and direct staff to pursue additional information
A potential vote on whether to amend the ordinance – the first step in preparing to sell the property – is tentatively scheduled for the June 21 meeting.
In 2012, Flagstaff voters passed a bond funding the construction of a new public works yard at McAllister Ranch. But the bond funding was never intended to cover the full cost of the new yard, and at the time, the City told the public that the Mogollon property would be sold to help pay for the new McAllister Ranch yard. In the meantime, a group of neighborhood residents has done extensive research on the history of the Mogollon property and is advocating that it be maintained as a park.
At a packed public meeting on May 18, city staff presented two main options that the Council could take when choosing what to do with the Mogollon property once the city yard moves to McAllister Ranch:
- Clean up the property (estimated cost: $60,000), including removing and salvaging the metal buildings (estimated cost: $200,000) in order to keep the property as a part of Thorpe Park, with uses decided by the council with citizen involvement.
- Sell the land and rezone it for development (which would require that the council overturn the 1957 ordinance). There was no discussion at this meeting about other potential City uses of the land.
F3 opposes overturning this ordinance and rezoning/selling the property at this time. A better public input process and much more information are needed before an informed decision about the future of the Mogollon property can be made. Furthermore, residents of the surrounding neighborhood have made it very clear that they want the parcel to maintain its current status as a part of Thorpe Park and be remediated as parkland.
Thus far, this discussion appears to have been framed around two basic choices – either sell the land in order to generate the revenue needed for the McAllister yard, or retain the property and remediate it as a park. We appreciate that the staff presentation to Council on Tuesday will include a third option: defer a decision and direct staff to pursue additional information.
We need a more robust public policy discussion (with public input) on the future of the Mogollon property and the best way to generate the remaining revenue needed for the McAllister yard. We hope the Council will defer a decision on this issue and direct staff to provide the supporting information needed for that discussion, including answers to many questions, such as:
- How much money is still needed for the new public works yard beyond the revenue generated by the bond initiative passed by the voters? Are there other ways of generating that revenue besides the sale of land?
- If the Mogollon property is sold, what will its new zoning be, and how will that zoning impact the revenue that can be generated from the sale of the property? We would like to see a full appraisal of the property and an assessment of how each zoning type would affect the appraisal. For example, can the City only generate the revenue needed for the McAllister yard by selling the Mogollon property with zoning for high- or medium-density housing? F3 opposes high-density or high-occupancy development on this site, as these options would be completely out of context with the surrounding neighborhood and parkland.
- Would it be possible to generate a full report on the contamination of the property to ensure that the City’s estimate of $60,000 to complete its clean-up is accurate?
- What would it cost to fully remediate the site and develop it as a park? In addition to the clean-up of the contamination on the site, this would include ongoing annual costs for staff and maintenance of an expanded Thorpe Park.
- Could the City provide a complete list of city-owned parcels so that the staff, council, and the public can see what is left in the inventory of parcels that could be sold? It is difficult to evaluate the best use of this parcel without knowing what the other options are. Of course, selling another property may raise new conflicts and concerns that need to be carefully evaluated.
Based on recent events such as The Hub student housing development, Flagstaff residents are wary of plans to sell off city-owned land – particularly land near a historic neighborhood and one of the city’s most treasured parks – without knowing exactly what might happen to that land. A high-occupancy student housing or other high-density development would be a completely unacceptable land use in this area, and we need to demand assurance from the City that the land would not be sold for such a purpose. We also need a process for public discussion about other options for the land if the City retains it.
The City Council needs to hear from you about this issue! Please attend the meeting on Tuesday, June 14 at 6 pm at City Hall, and/or write to your council members at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you!