Thirty-nine years ago, I was a young man on a mission. I had just left corporate life in Southern California and was itching to make a life on my own terms in God’s country. I knew that if I wasn’t relying on someone else to make me successful, I’d be just fine. In 1980, I brought my young family to Prescott and joined a one-year-old family business started in the tiny town of Chino Valley called Olsen’s Chino Valley Grain. I brought an extensive marketing and pet food sales background to the company as well as some hard-earned cash.
Today, Olsen’s For Healthy Animals is five stores strong in North Central Arizona and is poised for the future. Where am I going with this? You want to do business in an area that is poised for success. You’re not afraid to work hard for the sake of your family and you just want to know that your hard work will eventually pay off. That’s the initiative I’ve been working hard to achieve while on the Prescott City Council for the last four years.
City government can’t make you successful, only you can. The city can, however, provide a financially stable government and a vibrant economic development environment, hopefully resulting in superior economic opportunities for you. I prefer to look at renewal, rather than just raw growth, as the driver of our success in the future. We need to constantly be “renewed” as a city, taking great care to preserve our attractive resources like our iconic downtown and surrounding historic housing district, as well as our natural resources like our lakes, trails, and beautiful open spaces, while not standing still and getting stale.
In 1980, downtown was not nearly what it is today. There were several vacant store fronts, and it was not somewhere you’d take friends from out of town to hang out, unless you were going to a bar. Now, it’s incredibly vibrant, with many family friendly shops, a variety of restaurants and is truly Everybody’s Hometown.
How do we achieve a balance between being a desirable place to live and the need to remain who we are? Part of the answer is reasonable government, a government that understands that it can only facilitate a successful community, not cause it. That’s up to you. How do we deal with our popularity and, say, traffic? Well, many people who work in Prescott live in our surrounding communities and fill up our roads getting to and from work. They can’t afford to live here. Government can improve the flow of traffic on our roads, make our downtown more pedestrian and parking friendly, work with the private sector to achieve regional transportation, and encourage attainable housing… but we can’t keep people out. If it’s hot in the Valley, people will come. If people want to experience Prescott as Arizona’s Christmas City, they will come. If they want the Prescott outdoor experience, they will come. And, we need them to come. 45% of our sales/bed tax dollars for the City of Prescott come from tourists, and another 16% come from people outside of our community. That’s saving our citizens from having to pay the entire bill for police, fire, recreation services and the library.
What about water? In my personal life, I conserve water. I do it because it’s the right thing to do, right now. I’m for the proposed water policy because we can plan for the future rather than just reacting to the future. It quantifies our water and is a much more exact way to allocate our precious resource. Back in the early 1900s, people had a choice to make. For hundreds of years, the horse and buggy in various forms was the preferred mode of transportation. Does that mean it shouldn’t give way to something else, simply because it had provided reliable transportation for all that time? No, the automobile came to bring us and the rest of the world into the 20th century. Likewise, I feel that the new water policy of the city is much more nimble, realistic and will allow us to know exactly what we are using rather than guessing.
What about the Dells? If this City Council didn’t want to save the Dells, the issue would have been off the table and gone a long time ago. That didn’t happen because we all want to save the Dells. I ask, “Is the 500 or nothing, worth the nothing?” Some people like to think that Prescott is the developer’s only alternative. That’s just not true. Some folks think that the state parks will come save the Dells. If it can, and has the money, I’m all for it. For the record, I’m not for the 250 acres of open space in the heart of the Dells that the developer is currently offering. If that’s his best offer, I’ll vote not to annex. It must be worth it for Prescott. QCBN
By Steve Sischka
Steve Sischka is a Prescott councilman.
Paid for by Northern AZ Social, LLC.
Authorized and approved by Steve Sischka for City Council.