Opinion

West: Pinal County projects mar Florence area

Posted 8/22/22

In the 1840s, my family came to what became the Florence area and established the La Cuerreria [Rawhide] Ranch east of town along the Gila River.

My great uncle said it was called Rawhide because …

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Opinion

West: Pinal County projects mar Florence area

Posted

In the 1840s, my family came to what became the Florence area and established the La Cuerreria [Rawhide] Ranch east of town along the Gila River.

My great uncle said it was called Rawhide because of the cattle hides hanging on the fences to dry. Leather was economically valuable in those days. This is where the Country Thunder music festival is held now.

In 1884, my great, great grandparents built the adobe house I live in today, east of the old courthouse on Park Street. Seven generations of my family have enjoyed from our front yard the beautiful sunsets behind the old courthouse. It was a lovely life in those days.

Today, I step out the front door and am confronted by a huge, multistory county building blocking our view. This building acts as a heat sink during the day and at night releases over our home the heat it has absorbed.

As you may know, adobes were constructed to be open in the cool of the night so they could remain cooler the next day in torrid Arizona summers. Moreover, the roar of the air-conditioners releasing more heat is reminiscent of the sound of Sky Harbor Airport, especially at night. 

Similar to your story about the town, the county foisted this building on the residential neighborhood without any outreach. None. I only learned about the proposal when they were breaking ground across the street and I walked over to investigate.

Around 40 years ago, Florence had a far-sighted town council and economic development council. They spent some effort and money in developing a National Historic District aimed at preserving the old buildings.

Shortly thereafter, the county purchased the adobe house and lot across the street from our home in this residential neighborhood, and demolished the adobe house there. Again, no outreach. They must have changed the zoning from residential around this time but never informed us.

Subsequently, the county has used the property for their maintenance dump, then for office trailers. When I complained that this was against town ordinances, they told me they didn't care: "We don't have to abide by Florence rules."

Indeed, I found that to be true. Now, we're faced with a massive government building in an area that should be residential. I mean, it's not like the county doesn't own land on the outskirts of town where they've been constructing other buildings.

My second story involves a friend, Mike. Mike owns five or 10 acres north of the river, west of Highway 79 where he lives in the desert. He likes the privacy so much that he doesn't mind hauling water and depending on his own solar array for power.

Recently, the county has begun building a shooting range for the Sheriff's Office near his property. Of course, he objected but, again, the county told him to pound sand.

Aside from the danger and lack of privacy this shooting range entails, it's unnecessary. Across the highway, the state maintains extensive shooting ranges for the National Guard which sit vacant 99% of the time.

But Pinal County will rather spend millions of taxpayer dollars, inconvenience people like Mike who just want to be left alone, and decrease property values of people who've invested in this land. 

Oh, I'll leave how the county privatized and destroyed our county hospital, county rest home, county nursing home, and county dump for another time.

By the way, your article about the dump in a residential area of Florence may never need have been written if we still had the old county dump between Coolidge and Florence.

Bruce West
Florence

Pinal County, Florence