According to recently reelected Town of Camp Verde Mayor Charlie German, two elements are now in place to allow Camp Verde to expand: Northern Arizona Healthcare opened the doors of its Verde Valley Medical Center Camp Verde Campus and the Arizona Department of Transportation took its first steps toward realigning State Route 260.
The first element, German said, fulfilled a longstanding need in the community — one German took upon himself to address with NAH administration before his election to mayor in 2013. At that point, building a facility in Camp Verde was No. 8 on the list of project priorities for NAH, according to German.
“Before I was seated, I called NAH,” German explained. “I said, ‘If you’re not going to build, I have a lot of people who want better access to health care.’”
Though not alone in his efforts, German helped make Camp Verde a greater priority for NAH, resulting in a working facility by the summer of 2016. The increased availability of health care for residents came at a time when the State Route 260 realignment, beginning with roundabout and sidewalk projects, made the entirety of the town more marketable to developers.
“It has really opened up interest, not only along [State Route] 260, but along Finnie Flat Road, as well,” German said, adding that increased development, especially by way of big companies investing in stores or facilities along the commercial corridor, would do much to increase the tax base and provide better employment. “I’m really excited about some of the things coming out.”
According to German, four subdivisions are currently in the investigating and planning phases.
German admitted that traffic and business access is an ongoing challenge, requiring collaboration with local business owners to ease problem areas for commuters and shoppers. He used the intersection at S. Main Street and S. Montezuma Castle Highway — occupied by Circle K — as a prime example of how poor infrastructure design presents dangers, causes traffic problems and limits access.
“That triangle is a nightmare,” German said, imagining aloud a day when the town is able to purchase the land and create a better intersection.
German added that the State Route 260 realignment goes a long way to alleviating traffic issues in the important commercial corridor, making it possible to market to businesses that may have balked at access issues in years past.
For all of the talk about growth, German said that Camp Verde risks impacting the Verde River negatively if demand is not managed well. “We’re on a collision course in having more development, with more sippy straws poked in the ground .... What we want to do is have some sustainability.”
To this end, German said that he would like to see Camp Verde position itself as a tourist ecotourism destination — a place that can be an alternative to Sedona and its over-loved resources. Such destination travelers stick around for a day or two and then move on. Amenities such as the new 4-star hotel at Cliff Castle Casino would go a long way toward convincing them to choose Camp Verde, according to German.
German pointed out to be competitive the town must have data to support infrastructure and business development. Fortunately for residents, the town has planned for this.
“One of the things I think will be helpful for us is that we have signed a three-year contract with a data-mining organization,” German said, adding that the company will be tracking where and how residents and visitors spend their money. The goal of the effort, according to German, is to establish an inventory that can be used to most efficiently make zoning and development decisions.
“I am so happy that Camp Verde is willing to invest in itself,” German said.