Earlier this year, Resolution Copper announced that the company will need to tear down the smelter and smoke stack buildings in order to complete their environmental clean up which is required to be done by 2020, under orders from the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality. The announcement has brought upon discussions between the Town of Superior and Resolution Copper on how to best memorialize and honor these buildings along with the mining history of Superior.
Rebuild Superior Inc. and the Community Working Group have been tasked by the Town and Resolution Copper to conduct outreach to gather ideas on what the community would like to see be done to honor the mining history while also preparing for the future.
Rebuild Superior hosted the first community meeting last week at the Superior Junior Senior High School. To kick off the presentation and discussion, local musician Steve Holmquist performed a song, he created to honor the smelter, Miners and their families. The song set the tone for a discussion on ideas people shared.
Some of the ideas shared were:
• Reactivation of the Magma Arizona Rail Line with new train Depot that could be a welcoming center for tourists using the train. The rail line would accommodate both a tourist rail line and industry needs. It was also emphasized that the reactivation of the rail line could bring additional jobs to the area and be an added value for other local companies like Omya and Imerys Perlite.
• Ask Resolution Copper to donate the old Magma Hospital back to the community and put a museum in the old hospital which is now the offices for Resolution Copper (also referred to as the Verde Building).
• Develop a memorial to honor the miners who have lost their lives working in the mine.
• Commission art pieces and more songs that will help to honor the history of the Smelter, mining history and the community.
• Build a 300 foot cell phone tower which would replicate the smoke stack portion of the smelter. This could generate revenue for the mine as they would sell the cell tower space to the cell companies.
• Use hologram technologies to project the image of the smelter into the night sky.
• Re-construct the buildings being torn down in a smaller scale in an area people could access them. One idea that expanded on this idea was to either rebuild these to scale and develop a museum in them and or renovate the Harding School to become a mine and history museum. The Harding School would also have access to the US 60 Park where the history trail and caboose currently is set at.
Another suggestion that was made requested that any museum being built also include exhibits and spaces that showcase the mining innovations that will be used in the Resolution Copper project and also allow for higher education courses to be hosted at the facility along with spaces for larger lectures, music and theatre performances.
There was also a discussion about the locomotive that is still housed onsite. Everyone in the audience agreed that the locomotive should stay in Superior either on Main Street near the entry to the mine/potential place for train station or put on display at the US 60 Park.
Mayor Mila Besich-Lira explained to the audience that the Town and Resolution are working on a few plans to complete some major renovations to the US 60 Park before the smokestack is torn down. Those plans include completion and interpretation of the History Trail and construction of a new mining themed play structure at the US 60 park. She also shared that the Town has commissioned a Parks and Recreation Capital Improvements Plan, that will help the town to determine long term priorities for Town Parks and Recreation development.
Once community participation is completed, the Town and Resolution Copper will be determining at least three of the projects to conduct a feasibility study on. While the MOU outlines that the Town and Resolution Copper will discuss the projects and develop feasibility and sustainability studies, the MOU does not indicate that Resolution Copper will pay to implement the ideas that are studied at this time.
The Town of Superior and Resolution Copper both welcome additional ideas on how best to honor and preserve the mining history. You can submit your ideas by contacting Jim Schenck at Rebuild Superior Inc. 520-689-0200 or firstname.lastname@example.org.