KINGMAN - The proposed archway over Beale Street needs to reflect the community's identity and send a message about community spirit and history, a small group of citizens said Thursday at a forum for America's Best Communities competition.
The community forum, hosted by citizen volunteer Cere Tabbert in the Kingman Library, focused on "engaging" the community to move forward in the national competition.
America's Best Communities contest is a $10 million rural economic development initiative sponsored by Frontier Communications, Dish, CoBank and the Weather Channel.
Kingman was selected as a quarterfinalist in April and was awarded $35,000 to develop a comprehensive community revitalization plan.
Florida-based Dycom Industries has been assigned to help Kingman go after the $3 million top prize and sweetened the pot with a $15,000 donation toward those efforts.
Kingman Area Chamber of Commerce will submit an application by Nov. 6 for the next 15 spots.
"Right now we see a lot of apathy, a lot of questions and not that many answers," Tabbert told four citizens who attended forum. "We have to be engaged to understand what's being asked of us."
So far, there's been a couple of studies and a lot of great ideas, but not a lot of action, she said. For now, the talk is about the arch, which would be paid for out of the $100,000 Kingman would receive for advancing to the next round of competition.
Tabbert moderated a group discussion about Kingman's assets and identity, what motivates a community and what the arch should identify for the community.
Everyone agreed that Kingman has a long list of assets, including the weather, scenery, schools, parks, low tax structure, Kingman Airport, the interstate highway and rail system.
Kingman native Mert Glancy said she wants to see something about the town's history on the welcoming arch, which would include mining, ranching, Route 66 and actor Andy Devine. And it needs to direct visitors to historic downtown Kingman, as many of them bypass the business district on Route 66.
The arch would be 20 feet high and span about 75 feet across Beale Street at the entrance to Locomotive Park, leading into downtown, Tabbert said. It'll be a spot where visitors will want to take photographs.
"This is our opportunity. We haven't developed enough of downtown. It's a problem," she said.
The Downtown Merchants Association has started up again, and Route 66 Association does a good job of promoting tourism, but Kingman has to go after something more than the Mother Road, Tabbert said.
Opportunities and options for the youth will keep the community motivated, said Ed Pyrzynski, a three-year resident of Kingman.
The next forum is 6:30 p.m. Aug. 20 in the library, 3269 N. Burbank St.
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