John Barkley has been the Winslow City Manager since December 2018 and is a member of the ECoNA Board of Directors. We asked him about his background and several of the projects the City has been working on recently.
Q: Where are you from originally and how did you come to be the City Manager in Winslow?
I’m originally from Gaithersburg, Maryland, and grew up in the Washington D.C. metro area. I also spent several years in Palos Verdes, California, while my father was attending USC. I will always fondly remember our Route 66 experience, particular the myth and legend of the famous highway as we travelled through the southwest on our way from Maryland to California.
When the City Manager job came about, I had a powwow with my wife and children and we decided that we could not pass up an adventure out west. Having managed in small, rural towns throughout the course of my career, Winslow seemed to fit the bill as a great next step for me to apply my experience and broaden my perspective while providing my family with an exciting and memorable adventure.
Q: One of the big developments right now is the RV park near the I-40/North Park Drive interchange. Can you tell us about that?
This is a 31 acre planned RV Park and multi-unit residential project located east of North Park Dr. at the I-40 interchange commercial area in Winslow. The land was sold by the City for $25,416. The project will be developed by the purchaser, Mr. Stephen Pyles, of LJS, LLC out of Las Vegas, Nevada. By agreement between the City and Mr. Pyles, substantial completion must occurs within two years or the property reverts back to the City.
Q: Winslow achieved fame with the Eagles song Take it Easy and the reference to “Standin’ on the corner in Winslow Arizona.” What’s the latest at Standin’ on the Corner park?
Brian and Lori Law came to Winslow in 2010 and enjoyed it so much they bought a shell of a building across from the Winslow theater, the 66 Motor Palace, and set up residence there. In 2017, a second building lured them in, a historic building next to the Standin’ on the Corner Park. In early 2019, they left SoCal and moved full time to Winslow where several months later, they opened The Motor Palace Mercantile, an old-style corner shop heavily influenced by their love of motorcycles and classic cars.
The Merc features specialty foods plus vintage and new merchandise, all with an emphasis on made-in-USA. It has quickly become a very popular place both locally and for the thousands of visitors each week who stop on the “Corner” to take in the legend of the famous Eagles hit, which remains one of the biggest tourism draws between Flagstaff and Gallop, New Mexico.
Q: Winslow is also doing a lot of beautification work right now, particularly with a big tree-planting project.
Yes, that’s one of two complimentary priorities for the City in an effort to beautify our corridors and “green” the City. We are also lighting up Winslow’s downtown with upgraded LED lighting and fixtures to provide a more conducive venue for nightlife and improve the perception of safety in town without compromising the “dark skies” that make our area so unique.
We plan on planting more than 50 trees this budget year, more than we have planted in the past five years combined. The plan is to order trees late in the year to be planted sometime in December.
Q: What kind of trees are you planting and where?
We’ll be putting in 11 Afghan or Mondell Pines at the 9/11 Remembrance Garden and the Dog Park area; a mix of 27 Chilean Mesquite, Palo Brea and African Sumac at the cemetery; and three trees at both the library and the police department. Meanwhile on the streets we plan to have three Purple Robe Locusts and two Fruitless Plums at the 1st Street Walkway Park; a Honey Locust at Kinsley; and three of the Fruitless Plums at Westend.
We also plan to meet with our Chamber leadership on how to move forward with planting trees west of the Winslow Visitors Center, with a plan is to build a walkway with trees on both sides, most likely pines.