Douglas Mansion project in Jerome wins Governor’s award

[Source: Philip Wright, Verde Independent] – Among the Governor’s Awards presented for Arizona Public Archaeology and Heritage Preservation announced June 24, was an award for the stabilization project of the Douglas Mansion at Jerome State Historic Park near Jerome. The award ceremony took place at the University Park Marriott in Tucson during the 9th Annual Arizona Historic Preservation Conference. The DouglasMansionproject was recognized as a partnership among ArizonaState Parks, YavapaiCounty, the Town of Jeromeand the Jerome Historical Society.

The Jerome State Historic Park, with the Douglas Mansion as its centerpiece, reopened Oct. 14, after the stabilization project was completed. The popular state park was closed suddenly in February 2009 due to budget sweeps and needed repairs. No one was expecting the park to reopen in the foreseeable future. But a partnership of sorts among the Yavapai County Board of Supervisors, the State Parks Board, the Douglas family and the Town of Jerome gave the park new life. The partnership brought about the reopening of the park much sooner than expected.

Chip Davis, county supervisor for District 3, convinced the board to kick in $30,000. TheDouglas family chipped in $15,000, and the State Parks Heritage Fund came up with grants for the project. TheDouglasMansion was built in 1916 by Jimmy “Rawhide” Douglas, and it became a state park in 1965. Douglas designed the mansion as a home for his family and as a hotel for mining officials and investors. Originally, the mansion featured a billiard room, wine cellar and steam heat. Built from adobe bricks made on site, the home was well ahead of the times with a central vacuum system. Now the museum features many exhibits, mining artifacts, photographs, minerals and a three-dimensional model of Jerome with its underground mines and tunnels.

State park closures take toll on Arizona towns

[Source: Parker Leavitt, Arizona Republic] — The budget-cut-induced closure of two popular state parks is taking an economic toll on businesses in Jerome and Payson.  Jerome State Historic Park and Tonto Natural Bridge State Park were closed Feb. 26 after the state Legislature cut more than $34 million in park funds to help fill budget gaps.

The park in Jerome remains shuttered.  Tonto Natural Bridge has reopened, but only on weekends. Consequently, hotel bookings have slowed, and shops and restaurants see fewer customers, while a recent Northern Arizona University study suggests the closures could cost the regions several million dollars in annual park-driven revenues.  “There is no question that people up here feel the loss,” Jerome Chamber of Commerce President Tom Pitts said.  “There’s a big hole in the experience here.”

Jerome, Arizona’s smallest incorporated town, is home to an eclectic mix of art galleries, wineries and historic sites.  The state park was a major draw for the community’s tourism industry, helping to lure more than 60,000 visitors in 2008.  “People make traveling decisions based on what they’re going to do when they get here,” said Anne Conlin, owner of the Connor Hotel in Jerome.  “(Guests now) book maybe a one-night stay instead of a two-night stay. Or they just don’t come at all.”

The park includes the historic Douglas Mansion, built in 1916, antique mining attractions and a picnic area with views of the region’s mountains.  [Note: To read the full article, click here]

Viewpoint: Local vigilance needed as Arizona’s state parks close

File:Douglas Mansion.jpg
Douglas Mansion, Jerome State Historic Park

[Source: Camp Verde Bugle] — It’s official.  Jerome State Historic Park will close its doors.  By all appearances, Fort Verde will not be far behind.

Don’t panic.  When the State Parks Board voted Friday to shutter the Jerome park, it was with the understanding that repairs would be done and that some day the grand old place would be open to the public again in better shape than it is now.  Like Tonto Natural Bridge State Park near Payson, Jerome has long needed a repair closure. Though personnel had not received official notification Saturday, the understanding is the Jerome park will be shut down by Feb. 27.

Even if Fort Verde State Park follows the same path, which could happen at the next meeting of the Parks Board, this should not be considered a permanent move — not if residents remain vigilant.

While other parks like Oracle and Homolovi Ruins were temporarily spared, we have to agree with Parks Director Ken Travous that it is unlikely that the concerned groups will be able to raise enough money to maintain them. That is also true of Fort Verde, which has been even more costly to run than Jerome has.  No matter how many Friends or ex-Friends the fort may have, no one has that kind of money, certainly not the Camp Verde Historical Society.

What is important in Jerome (and in Camp Verde if and when the fort closes) is for residents to keep an eye on operations during the closure.  Jerome’s Douglas Mansion is supposed to be closed for repairs.  If residents note that the state is not spending money on such repairs, then it would be time to get more involved.  If the buildings and fences of Fort Verde appear to be taking a slide, locals should dig down and help with the upkeep of Camp Verde’s centerpiece.

The closed parks are not being abandoned by the state, just shuttered.  The rest of us should not abandon the parks, either.  In hard economic times, it will take vigilance to make sure these closures are only temporary.

Starving our parks (Arizona Republic editorial)

[Source: Arizona Republic] — Watch out!  Falling plaster!  Arizona’s state parks are literally crumbling.  Chunks of plaster are coming off the walls at Douglas Mansion in Jerome.  Parts of the sidewalk around the historic building are closed off to protect the public.

The Legislature slashed park spending and raided the capital funds in the budget crisis of 2002.  The money wasn’t restored when revenues were rolling in.  Arizona State Parks, with jewels that range from the underground wonders of Kartchner Caverns to the scenic and recreational pleasures of Picacho Peak, has an operating budget of $26 million — about $4 per Arizonan.  Now, with the state facing a massive shortfall, the legislative budget proposal would slash park spending further.

On top of that, there’s a breathtakingly illogical proposal to cut park fees.  Senate Bill 1458 would shrink the cost of an annual pass by 20 percent for Arizona residents.  It passed the Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Rural Affairs on a 4-3 vote.  [Note: To read the full article, click here.]