In his eyes, Allan Affeldt offered the Winslow City Council a gift. However, in the eyes of the council members, it was a Trojan Horse rather than charity.
In July, Affeldt offered to take control of Phase II of the Downtown Rehabilitation Project in the hope of pacifying local business owners. The Winslow Business Association was angered at City Administrator John Roche for how he was overseeing Phase I.
Last week, City Council denied Affeldt’s offer based on the advice of City Attorney Dale Patton. The entire discussion took place in an Executive Meeting, so council members could not discuss what exactly was said behind closed doors.
Affeldt has restored La Posada and the Winslow Theater into viable businesses. However, Affeldt said it was another one of his properties that caused the council to turn down his request. He said his offer was rejected because he owns the St. Joseph Church rectory on Second Street.
Mayor Jim Boles would not say what the exact reason was, just that based on legal advice, if Affeldt took over Phase II, there would be a “conflict of interest.”
“That is in no way impugning Mr. Affeldt’s motives,” he said. “He’s doing it for the right reasons as far as I’m concerned. But he owns quite a bit of property in the area that is affected. So from the outsider’s standpoint that could come across as a conflict of interest.”
Affeldt said he was “disappointed” in the council’s decision because his plan offered the city an opportunity to satisfy the angered business owners.
“What was there to loose,” he asked. “Nothing except someone other than Mr. Roche would be scrutinizing the project.”
Members of the WBA have accused Roche of ignoring the public concerns about the project and approving plans that contradicted those of the Joint Task Force.
“There were huge objections,” said Affeldt, a member of the JTF. “They were not addressed and ADOT was told there were no objections. That’s a fraud. That will not be allowed to happen in Phase II.”
According to Affeldt’s proposal, he would oversee the public planning process for Phase II and the pending Route 66 turn-back agreement. In addition, Affeldt would seek public input, act as a liason to the council and other involved government agencies, recommend appropriate professional consultants, recommend appropriate deadlines and budgets and would report directly to City Council as well as take direction directly from it.
Affeldt said his plan could also save the city from paying consultant fees as well as other administrative costs. He would not be compensated for his services and either side could terminate the agreement at any time for any reason.
“I’m disappointed on one hand because I’m sure they’re going to screw it up just like they did Phase I,” Affeldt said. “On the other hand, the city certainly could have found some better use of the $100,000 plus that would have been saved.”
At least one council member disagreed with the decision to turn down the proposal.
Councilwoman Judy Howell said she thinks Affeldt is “highly qualified” to handle the project having worked with the various federal and state agencies on projects for La Posada.
“In a small town everybody has got an interest in the town and I really think the interest would have kept him on the straight and narrow actually,” she said. “He wouldn’t have done anything that would’ve been detrimental because he would have lost his interest in the town as well as other people.”