KINGMAN – With nearly $1 million in private money, time and materials invested in Mohave Valley-Fort Mohave Community Park, supporters of the park were pleased that Mohave County Board of Supervisors voted 4-1 Monday to ratify action to go forward with a lease agreement for 25 years.
The board received a letter from the Arizona Attorney General’s Office that it had violated the open meeting law when it voted on Dec. 18, 2017, to amend a park development agreement between Mohave County and the Mohave Valley Park committee.
Supervisor Buster Johnson, who voted against the ratification, filed a complaint with the AG in January that the board failed to give adequate public notice that the amendment vote would be on the agenda.
County Attorney Ryan Esplin said the Dec. 18, 2017, vote was in violation of open meeting laws, but the board remedied the vote by ratifying the action Monday. Now what the vote has been ratified, the amendment has been passed, he said.
Dan Oehler, representing BHHS Legacy Foundation in Phoenix, said the foundation has awarded nearly $1 million in grants for improvements to the 39-acre park since its inception, and the board has issued an additional $250,000 grant for restrooms, scoreboard and snack bar.
He encouraged the Board of Supervisors to adopt the earlier resolution that would lease the park to Mohave County for $1 a year for a period of 25 years upon completion of the improvements.
“We’re simply not in a position to further contribute to funding if they’re not able to show the ability to sustain improvements in the facility,” Oehler said.
The park development agreement from 2015 was amended for the county to assume the long-term lease and reserve $250,000 for additional improvements.
Chip Sherrill, whose family donated the land for the park, said hundreds of kids were using the park over the past weekend.
He answered questions about water usage, noting that the park is only using about two-thirds of the 39 acre-feet allocation to irrigate four baseball fields and two soccer and football fields. It has drip irrigation for roughly 500 shade trees, low-flow toilets and efficient sprinklers for the fields.
Supervisor Johnson, who has consistently voted against the park development agreement, showed slides of a second trailer that has been placed at the park without a proper permit and in violation of building codes. He also had pictures of piles of dirt and debris that he considered a liability risk for the county.
Sherrill said he didn’t know where Johnson got his pictures since he’s never visited the park personally, to his knowledge, and the debris was removed long ago.
Johnson was also concerned about the “tremendous amount of grass” in the park that would cost the county for watering and seeding.
The Colorado River Union High School District maintains the park through an agreement that gives the district priority to use the park for sports activities, but Johnson noted there’s no contract with verification that the district will maintain the park for 25 years.
He also wanted to know if the county has an estimate on maintaining the park once it takes over the lease.
Steve Latoski, director of Public Works, responded that most of the maintenance would be performed by county staff at an estimated cost of $300,000 annually.