Safford’s Downtown is getting it done.
Last week, the Safford Downtown Association announced two major initiatives —El Coronado was the business selected for a 48-hour makeover, and an artist was selected to paint a new mural on the side of the Farmers Insurance building.
The Downtown Association is killing it right now, what with the renovation of the historic theater and plans to increase and improve signage in the area also on tap.
In the spirit of full disclosure, we have to note that the editor of this paper is a member of the Downtown Association Board, but he’s not the reason things are improving in Safford’s Downtown — that credit goes to the Downtown Association’s president, Danny Smith.
Smith has worked tirelessly — for longer than even he would care to admit — on making the Downtown more attractive to shoppers, which makes the area more attractive to business start-ups and businesses looking to relocate.
He and former city Planning Director (now Graham County manager) Dustin Welker were the catalysts behind the improvements to the area’s crosswalks and the bump-outs at intersections. Now Smith, with the support of the city’s new Planning Director, Susan Smith, and Amber Hogle, the city’s administrative events liaison, have been working on this latest round of improvements.
It should also be noted that Freeport-McMoRan provided funding for these latest two initiatives — as well as, with the United Way of Graham and Greenlee Counties, funding for the theater project — proving, once again, that we have perhaps the finest corporate citizen in the state right here in our backyard.
There’s still more work to be accomplished. The city is considering an entertainment district for the Downtown area, which would provide for flexibility in zoning and allow a greater array of businesses access to some of the vacant storefronts in the Downtown.
And, of course, the issue of parking needs to be tackled. Too many businesses complain that workers at neighboring businesses are parking in slots that should go to customers, but where are employees to park when there a limited number of street spaces available?
We expect the city and the Downtown Association will take a serious look at the parking situation — as well as vacancies — over the next year or two, as improvements to the area continue.
In this space previously, we discussed how we believe now is the time for the community to determine its identity and start making plans on how to improve our situation. Smith, the Downtown Association and funders such as Freeport and the United Way are shining examples of what can be done when there is vision, a desire to partner and a willingness to do the work to get things done.