Kingman asked to rally behind downtown county office site

Kingman residents and the business community need to mobilize support for the downtown location of the proposed Mohave County government office complex, said Mayor Les Byram.

"The decision to locate the Mohave County Sheriff's building on the old armory site does not mean all the complex will be built downtown," Byram said.

"The super-block site is enhanced by the decision to separate the sheriff because the parking garages could be eliminated."

Byram said the decreased need for parking garages would make the downtown site equal or less costly than the proposed Golden Valley site on Shinarump Road between Interstate 40 and Highway 68.

"No one has figured the cost of 700 employees driving out there every day or the cost of county employees driving county vehicles between sites during the lengthy transition before all the buildings would be ready," he said.

"The cost of an all-weather road from Route 68 in Golden Valley to Interstate 40 to make the site accessible has been greatly underestimated.

"The Shinarump Road site is not in any fire district and it would be expensive to build up the Golden Valley Fire District to the level needed to give the buildings fire protection," Byram said.

He said the decision on a final site rests with District 2 Supervisor Tom Sockwell.

Pete Byers, District 1 Supervisor and Board Chairman, campaigned on the need to keep the complex in downtown Kingman.

District 3 Supervisor Buster Johnson, the only member of the previous board re-elected, continues to support the Shinarump Road site.

"Tom Sockwell told me personally during the campaign that the county facilities should stay in Kingman," Byram said.

"Now, he is getting a lot of pressure from the interests that want the county seat on Shinarump Road."

Byram said the Kingman City Council is making every effort to keep the county complex in the downtown area, but the residents and business people need to be more active.

Kingman Area Chamber of Commerce Chairman Pat Nugent said the chamber has always supported the downtown site and continues to support locating the complex there.

"Putting the county government complex on Shinarump Road means the county seat would be in the middle of nowhere," Nugent said.

"We will be discussing the situation at the Wednesday executive committee meeting," he said.

"We continue to support the city efforts to bring the facility downtown and the financial commitments the city has made to do that."

Nugent said building on Shinarump Road moves the county seat to a new city without a vote of the residents of Mohave County.

"Once the buildings are there, first services, then a city will grow up around the complex and the county seat will be in a new city," he said.

Mohave County Sheriff Tom Sheahan said the location of the new law enforcement building at the jail annex (the former armory) on West Beale Street frees parking space in the super-block area.

"We are moving quickly on the new building and will visit other designs by HDR Associates very soon to get ideas and get to the design stage," Sheahan said.

"We are confidant we will occupy a new building on the former armory site in 18 to 24 months.

Kingman Downtown Merchants Association President Connie Kettelhut said her group is composing a letter to the city to affirm continued support for the downtown Kingman site.

"It would be devastating to move the county seat out of downtown Kingman," she said.

'It would cost the county employees to drive.

We need to keep the sheriff, the jails, and the county offices downtown."

City Councilman Tom Spear said it would be helpful for the merchants group and the chamber of commerce to be more vocal.

"There is some apathy because they are looking at what the council is doing," he said.

"We are just one voice.

A grassroots movement from the people and local business would be effective."

Spear said the transition to new buildings would be much smoother in the downtown Kingman location, easier for employees and less confusion for county residents using the services.

"I have heard estimates of $7 million to build the all-weather roads the Shinarump site would eventually require," he said.

"Infrastructure and fire protection would be costly."

At January's county board of supervisors meeting, Sockwell said he needed more time to study the issue.

"I just walked in off the street and need more time to study the sites," Sockwell said at the board meeting.