Doubts about the need for a town park in the Blue Hills area of Dewey-Humboldt and a room full of unhappy neighbors led the town council to reject an offer of donated land at the June 10 council study session.
The 1.6-acre parcel, located on East Newtown Avenue, belongs to Paul Manganella, who recently donated a nearby 2-acre parcel to Central Yavapai Fire Department.
At a June 3 standing-room-only council meeting, disgruntled residents spoke out against a park. Several mistakenly thought the land to the west of Highway 69 would support a trailhead, which actually is planned at the end of Newtown on Prescott National Forest land. They also objected to accepting the land in exchange for "forgiving" fines Manganella owes the town.
Because the statements occurred during public comment time, council members could not respond without violating Open Meeting Laws. However, D-H Town Manager Yvonne Kimball said later Manganellas code violation and his property donation are two separate matters.
Should the town decide to accept the donation prior to Mr. Manganella settling his code violation, my position is that the town would inherit the violation and take corrective actions as the ultimate goal of the towns code enforcement process is for the property to be in compliance, Kimball said in a June 9 email.
Manganella first approached the town on April 2 about donating the property to create a park for the Blue Hills neighborhood. A week later, he attended a code enforcement hearing on an August 2013 violation for grading of properties without a proper permit. He announced his plans to donate the land at an April 15 council meeting, also stating he was not happy about the code enforcement ruling against him, and wanting the council to waive the $2,200 fine, Kimball said. The hearing officer had ordered him to pay up or obtain an "after-the-fact" permit by May 20.
On May 7, Manganella gave a warranty deed showing his intention to donate the parcel. He also asked for, and received, a 120-day extension to pay the fine.
On May 20, after meeting in executive session, the council adopted a resolution, which directed the town manager to look into the property's legal description and title, and an environmental site assessment.
After hearing from residents, Mayor Terry Nolan asked that the council revisit the issue at the June 10 study session. A motion to go into executive session resulted in a 3-3 tied vote, and the council discussed the matter in open session with several neighbors and Manganella present.
Councilman Dennis Repan said the town has no plans to maintain a park in the Blue Hills, and the idea of dropping one into the middle of an established neighborhood "kind of soured me."
Councilman Mark McBrady said he had spoken with the town attorney and brought up Manganella's character. Councilman Jack Hamilton said he could not agree with accepting the property after Manganella affirmed that the land be used solely for a park.
"Where there's dense housing, there's a need (for a park). In the Blue Hills, where everybody's on an acre and a half of land, I don't think we should have a park up there. It's expensive to maintain. I'd rather see the money go elsewhere," Hamilton said.
The council voted 6-0 (Arlene Alen was absent) to withdraw the resolution. On Monday, Manganella said he plans to approach the state to see if the land could be used as a memorial park.
Posted: Wednesday, June 18, 2014
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I wanted to personally thank those who showed up in council chambers to discuss and give their opinion on this matter. Unfortunately and in many cases we on council, at least in my opinion, have to make decisions in the blind, without public input. Your input allowed me, as I stated in the last meeting, to put myself in your shoes and see the problems going forward with this project. Thanks again to all of you who attended and signed the petition, and please do not be strangers in our council chambers on any matter that faces our small community.