So now the Forest Service is getting all biblical on the Lakeview Trailer Park, which has perched inconspicuously on a hill overlooking Roosevelt Lake for decades.
Seems like the Tonto National Forest is intent on applying that verse from Matthew: “If thy hand offends thee, cut it off.”
Now, one expects absolute devotion to commands carved into stone from preachers, but we’re not so sure it makes good public policy.
Granted, the Forest Service has a point. No doubt, the folks leasing 21 acres of Forest Service land for a trailer park are turning a private profit from public land. No doubt, that violates the letter of the law as codified in the Tonto National Forest plan.
But should the Forest Service hack off the hand that has offended it. What then, pray tell, will it do with the bloody stump?
Those 21 acres of public land have for decades nurtured a small community occupied mostly by vacation homeowners. Currently, 167 people rent space in the park — including about 10 full-time residents who mostly work nearby.
One, perhaps self-interested, study concluded those residents interject about $2 million annually into the local economy. The park provides the only housing within miles and plays a crucial role in supporting the nearby marina and other businesses.
Perhaps more importantly, the trailer park also operates the only sewage treatment operation within miles, funded by residents’ $65 per-month payments.
The Forest Service served warning at least a decade ago that it would not renew the lease when it expires next January. That gives residents a year to move their trailers.
Unfortunately, many of those trailers don’t meet current standards — which means no other trailer park will take them. Many residents will probably have to just walk away from their vacation homes, potentially leaving the Forest Service with a mess to clean up.
Now, in principle — we agree with the Forest Service: We should be very leery about letting private businesses turn a profit on public lands when that business doesn’t allow open public access.
But we’re having a hard time applying that principle to this case. For starters, the Forest Service has no better use for the property in mind. The lake has plenty of RV rental spaces and campgrounds — and the Lakeview generally can’t fill the open-to-the-public RV spaces it already operates.
So what will the Forest Service gain from shutting down the trailer park without an alternative plan? Not a thing. But the closure will undoubtedly damage the tourist economy of the area, decreasing public use of this marvelous resource.
So we hope the park manages to talk various elected representatives into seeking some compromise. Perhaps the park could pay its way by providing services to the nearby Forest Service visitors center, adding more RV spaces or a campground or taking other actions designed to increase public use and access.
Because as best we can make out, hacking off the right hand of that little community would be a heck of a waste.
Black and White Ball has distinctive appeal
You’d expect to see an organization like the Mogollon Health Alliance in a big city like Phoenix. The health care advocates have big dreams for the town of Payson that include improved health care, educational opportunities for residents, and health fairs that bring needed services.
The group continues to work on cutting edge projects like telemedicine, which allows doctors in rural hospitals to confer in real-time with the experts all over the world.
This year, its Black and White Ball brought in more money than ever before to fund scholarships, grants and events. The preliminary tally from the gala topped $45,000. Rim Country’s fire departments will have money to train EMTs and paramedics. The Gila Community College will graduate more nurses and residents will have access to health care professionals at the Women’s Wellness and annual health fairs.
Happily, the glamour and class of the Black and White Ball retained a distinctive Rim Country flavor. Intermixed with tuxedos and tailored suits were cowboy hats and boots. Gowns and diamonds mingled with costumes and simple black dresses adorned with jewelry made of Arizona stones.