|Written by Mark Lineberger|
|Wednesday, 18 January 2012 00:00|
It’s official. Camp Verde is the center of Arizona, or close enough anyway, according to those in charge of celebrating Arizona’s 100th anniversary of statehood this year.
It’s long been tradition for people to believe Squaw Peak is the geographical center of Arizona, but it’s actually a spot a bit east because of the nature of the state’s shape and geographical boundaries.
There was some question as to whether Camp Verde or Payson was truly the closest town to Arizona’s bull’s-eye, but Camp Verde got the final nod in the end.
The town will be getting a special sculpture marking Camp Verde as the closest incorporated town to the center, likely to be set up in Rezzonico Family Park, near where the Black Bridge crosses the Verde River along Montezuma Castle Highway.
The steel monument was funded in part by the Central Arizona Project and will eventually be commemorated with some sort of ceremony.
The town’s leaders were mixed about where to put the marker, however, with the Camp Verde Town Council split 5-2 in its decision to choose the park as the future home of the statue.
Members discussed the matter at their Wednesday, Jan. 4 meeting.
While the majority felt that down by the river would be the best place for the monument, Mayor Bob Burnside and Councilwoman Robin Whatley thought a downtown location might be appropriate.
“I immediately thought about the businesses,” Whatley said, suggesting that the town could market the statue to attract any interested visitors into downtown where the shops and restaurants are.
Burnside said he would prefer to see the statue somewhere near the downtown Hollamon Street ramada, along the sidewalk leading into Fort Verde State Historic Park.
“I think that would be a unique spot to enhance the fort,” Burnside said, adding that it made sense to him since the area is also close to the town’s official visitor center.
Proponents for the Rezzonico Family Park location, on the other hand, felt that putting the monument there would be a great way to help develop the park and draw attention to the Verde River, here in a state where a river that flows year-round is a rarity.
“We want to develop that park; we want to make it a showcase for the Verde River,” said Counc vilwoman Jackie Baker, pointing out that the river flows for 18 miles through Camp Verde’s boundaries. “It’s a prime location.”
Whatley expressed some concerns over the potential for vandalism, but Vice Mayor Bob Kovacovich pointed out that would be an issue anywhere the monument was erected.
“Unless you put it in the marshal’s office,” Kovacovich said.
Councilman Bruce George said he liked the idea of putting the statue in the park and would one day even like to see it placed in front of the town’s new library, whenever that may happen to get built.
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