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Out in the West Canyons. Showing part of Red Canyon. Right below the formation in the foreground is a spectacular ruins called Palatki. Visit the Forestry service office for directions. Structures dating from the 12th century and a lot of great Rock art. Out in these canyons is where you will find the heart of Sedona.
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an early debate
By John Walsh
Sedona Red Rock News
Although six other stakeholder groups have a say in the memorandum of understanding regarding the Hwy. 179 project, some representatives from the city of Sedona seemed to be the only ones who had significant issues during an intense six-hour meeting.
The MOU, which was slated for approval at the executive team’s meeting on Aug. 1, wasn’t approved and will require an
additional meeting to finalize revisions, most of which were initiated by Sedona City Councilman Ernie Strauch.
After a brief discussion on the MOU itself, the remainder of the discussion focused on the city of Sedona’s wariness regarding language that may allow for more than a two-lane highway.
Strauch changed the tempo of the meeting by stating that he would not approve a needs-based implementation plan process before he felt comfortable with the MOU.
Strauch said the city proposed language that stated that segments three and four of the project would have one through lane in each direction with improvements that may include but are not limited to additional through lanes in specific and limited sections.
“ That’s what this whole debate is all about, whether those words, specific and limited sections shall be included or not included,” he said.
“ If we just drop that and say additional through lanes, that basically means that the city would be agreeing to possibly Alternate C. If you left it in, it means that it would not be a continuous four-lane road.”
Strauch asked ADOT whether it was comfortable with the City Council possibly voting against the final product.
“ The only reason we are sitting here talking about the NBIP is because of what grew out of the engineer-to-engineer discussions,” he said. “There would never even have been this process to talk about had the city of Sedona not been convinced that there was another alternative to Alternate C and that we weren’t accepting from day one a process that could lead us to Alternate C.”
Debra Brisk, ADOT’s deputy director, said she “hoped to God” that a situation in which the council voted against the outcome of the process would never happen.
“ That would tell me that the process didn’t work and that scares me,” Brisk said. “We are committed to the process. If it did happen, the consequences would be there.”
Ken Anderson, the district ranger for the Red Rock Ranger District, said he was “puzzled” by the need to connect the NBIP and the MOU to the point where the process couldn’t be approved.
“ We can’t have an MOU that concludes the outcome,” he said. “There can’t be an MOU issue about what the specifics are because that would negate the need for the process.”
Anderson said that for the Forest Service, the MOU has “all to do about the relationship and the process,” but isn’t a decision- making document.
“ We are agreeing to work together on this,” he said. “If it becomes a decision document, it’s not an MOU anymore.”
Doug McDaniel, a representative from Big Park, criticized the possibility of the City Council voting against the potential four-lane outcome of Hwy. 179.
“ Any City Council that voted for a design and spent 18 months going through a communitywide process and through that process had reflected the will of the community, any City Council that then voted against that would be committing political suicide,” McDaniel said.
Although another meeting will still be held, Strauch and Mayor Dick Ellis and the rest of the executive team agreed to changing the Sedona portion of the MOU to read, “for segments three and four the basis of the road will be one through lane in each direction, with improvements.”
“ I will do my best to convince the rest of the council that it’s a good MOU,” Strauch said.

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