Information gathered from two town hall meetings, held earlier this month by the Globe City Council, will be incorporated into the city’s 2019-21 strategic plan.
That, according to Globe Economic Development Director Linda Oddonetto who spoke at the April 3 town hall meeting.
With the theme of community pride, the meetings were created as a result of council discussion on Feb. 26 and March 12 regarding blight mitigation funding, as well as blight enforcement in general.
A recurring theme throughout the meeting was lack of available resources, especially in the areas of marketing, code enforcement and volunteer help.
Valley resident Marsha Scott, who owns three homes in Globe, described herself as “embarrassed” by conditions in the area, citing issues such as abandoned vehicles, loose dogs and dilapidated buildings.
“We have a drive up here that rivals Sedona, but then we have to hope that visitors don’t look at Miami and Claypool as they are driving into Globe,” she said.
Scott made several recommendations, including fining city code violators $1,000 per day.
Citing the Hill Street School as an example, Scott described it as not only a blight issue but a “disease issue,” as well with squatters occupying the vacant building.
When Councilman Fernando Shipley asked her what motivated her to invest in Globe in the first place, Scott replied that her family in history in Globe goes “way back.”
“I would love to see Globe move forward,” Scott said. “I wonder that if 33,000 cars pass by on Highway 60, how many of them know to turn left [to] get on Broad Street?”
“We need a really good marketing effort and that takes a really good marketing company from the Valley — not someone here local,” Scott said.
“I don’t believe that you’ve seen all the strides we’ve made in the last year. We are in the process of marketing Globe,” said Globe Mayor Al Gameros. “All of us together will make it happen.”
Seated in the audience, Globe City Councilwoman Charlene Giles said, “To be fair, our Economic Development Department started one year ago.”
“We’ve got the right person,” said Giles, referring to Oddonetto. “We have one code enforcement officer and one economic development director. She needs staff.”
Giles and her husband moved to Globe “because we knew it was an undiscovered treasure. We are here for the duration,” she said.
At the same time, Giles agreed with Scott that “there are way too many vacant buildings,” also pointing out a lack of volunteers in the area.
Community beautification and clean-ups are held, but it is usually the same people doing the work. “We put the call out, but nobody comes, and nobody helps,” she said.
Resident Walter B. “Brad” Johnson said, “We all know that Globe could be a destination. We have a beautiful downtown area that rivals Bisbee, Silver City (N.M.) or Jerome. We all need to get involved.”
Shipley pointed out that “the government isn’t always the best vehicle to solve the problem,” and that when the city receives a grant, often the guidelines require expensive studies to be done.
Agreeing that there are blight issues in Globe, Shipley said, “Does it have to be the government, or can we maybe work together? The last time we did something like this (forum), we came up with the Globe Clean and Beautiful Committee.”
Thea Wilshire said that she hoped the town hall meetings would “focus not just on blight, but on beautification as well,” expressing hope for more public art as well as creation of an arts commission.
Wilshire gave a “hats off” to the city’s public works department, also applauding the beautification efforts downtown, “but I’d like to see it spread out a couple more blocks.”
A woman in the audience said that Globe needs to undergo a “culture change.”
“We used to pride ourselves on being a mining community. We don’t want to just accept that anymore,” she said. “We have to be beautiful because we want them (the tourists) to stop here.”
A lengthy discussion ensued regarding the code enforcement process. (See “Second Globe community pride town hall takes place on Thursday this week” in the April 10 edition of the Silver Belt).
Describing Globe as “a target rich environment,” City Manager Paul Jepson said that the city tries to use “more carrot than stick.”
“We could certainly firm up timelines if that is the council’s desire,” he said.
On the subject of vacant buildings, Giles pointed out that, currently, “there are 17 buildings in downtown that sit empty.”
Shipley offered one suggestion — that of establishing a “warehouse tax” on those who buy up commercial buildings, then use them only for storage and not to conduct business.
He said there is a town in the northwest that charges “a much higher tax” than it would for those conducting business in the building.
“Once the warehouse tax was started, people started selling off their buildings,” Shipley said.
Globe resident Carolyn Harro, who moved to Globe in 1996 due to her husband’s employment, read her list of recommendations for Globe.
As a social worker, Harro said that she uses a “strengths-based, solutions-based” approach.
Referring to surrounding communities like Miami and Claypool, Harro said, “As a community, we need to think collaboratively and not just think about where those lines are drawn. As the larger community, Globe needs to be a leader in some way.”
Harro’s suggestions included the city hiring “a dedicated grant writer,” and forming a “grant tasks committee,” “arts and culture committee,” and a “beautification committee.”
Echoing earlier comments by Scott, Harro said, “There is no pretty sign welcoming people to Globe.”
Another suggestion was to offer workshops on restoration.
“I have no idea how to renovate a house,” Harro said. “Maybe those who have done it can teach a class for those of us who don’t know how,” also sharing that knowledge with young people.
Talking about Besh Ba Gowah in Globe, Director Leanna Asberry, said she believes that “people don’t realize the number of visitors that Museum draws.”
But those visitors are also “looking for other things to do here, especially in downtown and on Sundays.”
“Some bars and Mexican food restaurants might be open, but many restaurants and shops are closed,” Asbury said. “A lot of the business owners don’t realize what they’re missing.”
She also pointed out that while looking for something open on Sundays in downtown, unfortunately visitors are also seeing the abandoned buildings.
Before the meeting closed, Oddonetto spoke again about marketing and economic development, “I am one person and I wear many hats. Let’s pool our resources. We have amazing people at our historical society, but it is going to take all of our organizations working together.”
“We have a wonderful mayor and council who support this, but it is something that we all need to buy into,” she said. “We have grown so much in a year.”
Shipley told the audience that the council would be “bring you back together” in the near future.
Thanking everyone for their input, even the complaints, Shipley said that as a business owner, he tells his staff that “when someone complains, they are saying, ‘I really care.’ The one that doesn’t care is the person who never says anything and then one day disappears.”
Shipley said that he wanted the council to hold the town meetings because of the people who do care. “I knew you were out there,” he said.