A recent City Council debate over Palo Christi’s future may have a long-term impact on the City's downtown revitalization effort.
To recap, City Council is considering buying Palo Christi from the School District for a token sum ($1) with the intent of using the building as a future city complex. Two objections to the move were voiced during the Sept. 19 meeting; some wrote off the plan citing worries over the initial cost of rehabbing Palo Christi, while others expressed a desire to build a new city complex behind Wal-Mart uptown instead. An attempt will be made to explain why these courses are unwise.
First, the initial cost of rehabbing Palo Christi should be contrasted with the recurring savings gained from the sale of the Fire Admin, City Engineer and City Attorney buildings. Further, if the full plan is adopted, upkeep of the present city complex will also cease, as the lot will become an open area for events. The resulting "Bonelli Park" will ensure those buildings sold by the City are commercially attractive, as well as help the tourist district expand from Beale to Oak Street. An initial investment in relocation to Palo Christi will make the properties sold by the city more marketable and pay dividends in terms of future business growth.
Second, any supposed benefit of building a new complex near Wal-Mart should be tempered by the long term fiscal impact of piling more empty and unused structures into Kingman's budding tourist district. If the City cuts-and-runs from the existing complex, old town will have not only the empty shell of Palo Christi to contend with, but also, the remains of the current ‘70s-era city complex and its outlying buildings, effectively dumped, into the core of historic Kingman. Tourists and local business owners will notice this exodus.
By contrast, there are aesthetic and practical reasons for moving to Palo Christi. First, Palo Christi is unique in having shaped downtown’s layout; Oak Street ran into the old High School, Front Street into the Powerhouse, 4th Street into the County Courthouse, and 5th Street into Kingman’s trademark water towers and Palo Christi.
Tourists do not miss this symmetry as it is part of what makes downtown scenic. Second, Palo Christi has served as a public space from its outset, having attained a formative tie with generations of locals. Third, a move to Palo Christi offers so much more for the public than the alternatives; a larger central building for the City's departments, a level and graded area behind the building for future expansion, a hall for council meetings, a park for tourists and events, the sale of several city-owned parcels for future business development and the continued use of a historic building which can, and should, be preserved by the entity which most stands to benefit from its conservation.
To help save this important part of Kingman, please attend the upcoming Oct. 17 City Council meeting and voice your support for relocating the city complex to Palo Christi campus.