Williams council approves swap meet for summer season

Image of swap meet and camping at site a concern, council members eventually decide money raised for student scholarships at weekend event too important to ignore

Williams City Council member Jim Wurgler voices his concerns about the Kiwanis swap meet. Marissa Freireich/WGCN

Williams City Council member Jim Wurgler voices his concerns about the Kiwanis swap meet. Marissa Freireich/WGCN

The Williams Kiwanis Club's summer swap meet will return for another year at the BNSF property at the west end of town, despite concerns from Williams City Council members about the image the meet conveys to visitors and illegal camping at the site.

The Williams City Council unanimously approved Kiwanis' use of the property for the swap meet at its April 11 regular meeting.

The swap meet will take place on Railroad Avenue north of Monument Park starting on Memorial Day, May 27. Kiwanis uses the money it raises to give scholarships to local students.

Kiwanis member Bud Parenteau said last year the club raised about $12,000 for scholarships.

Councilman Jim Wurgler said he was torn regarding the swap meet.

"I can't agree with you more that the scholarships are one of the more, I think, really noble things that are done by a service club in this community," he said.

Wurgler added that swap meets don't look attractive in any community he's seen.

"Here we are basically spending a couple hundred thousand dollars to tout Williams as being this clean and beautiful, wonderful community, all the streets are painted and the storefronts are done nicely and so forth. The swap meet does not contribute to that image of our community," he said. "And I don't know if you guys can ever come up with any other idea to put lipstick on the pig, but if you do you'll certainly have my vote of appreciation."

Parenteau said he understood Wurgler's concerns and was open to suggestions. The club is already trying to improve signage for the swap meet, Parenteau said.

Vice Mayor Don Dent said most of the complaints he hears are about days when the swap meet is not operating.

"You've got some of those guys that are down there trying to camp five days a week when they're only supposed to be there two days a week," Dent said. "The days that the swap meet is not going on it looks sometimes like a transient camp. And that's the issue. That's what we need to work on."

Parenteau said people are not supposed to camp there, and the club is working on addressing the situation. He acknowledged that people have mixed reviews about the swap meet.

"This group of people in this community like it, this group doesn't like it, but it does do something for the kids of our community and that's what we're working for," Parenteau said.

Wurgler agreed.

"When you balance things, it's like at least for this year, the kids win out," he said before moving to approve allowing the swap meet to take place on the property.

The council also took the following action:

• appointed Terri Sutton to the Housing Authority Board,

• adopted a resolution to renew membership in the Rural Arizona Group Health Trust for three years,

• approved a two-year intergovernmental agreement with Coconino County for county residents to use the city's transfer station, in which the county pays about $100,000 per year to help with operating costs for the transfer station, and

• tabled discussion about impact fees, since the presenter could not make the meeting.

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