OATMAN – A number of merchants in the historic mining town of Oatman oppose a western flavored enterprise proposed by an Aztec, New Mexico businessman. Tim McCarthy wants to develop “The Old 66 Ranch” about one mile outside of Oatman.
“I’m looking at putting in a small western town with horseback rides,” McCarthy said during the January 8 meeting of the Mohave County Planning and Zoning Commission. “We’re putting in a zip line. We’ll have a petting zoo and various activities that come with that. We’re looking at putting in a little mining museum and a reptile exhibit.”
McCarthy said other planned attractions include gold panning, longhorn cattle and ice cream making for kids.
“I think I can work really well with schools and rest homes,” McCarthy said “I think field trips are going to be really neat.”
Topock resident Michael Buck said McCarthy will merely duplicate existing activity to the detriment of established merchants.
“He’s talking about old time photos. We’ve got an old time photo shop,” Buck said. “Gold panning. We’ve got gold panning. He’s doing rock shops and selling jewelry and this and that. It’s all in Oatman already.”
Robert Lowery told Commissioners that Oatman does not need a makeover.
“Oatman is a great little town the way that it is,” he said. “It hurts to think that somebody’s going to come in with a bunch of money and try and recreate Oatman.”
Commission member Patricia Alexander said it might be that new enterprise will push existing businesses to do better.
“It provides more competition,” Alexander said. “It makes people improve their business. Whatever it takes.”
The Commission voted 8-1 in favor of staff recommended approval of rezoning required for the project on the west side of the Oatman Highway, on the Bullhead City side of Oatman. The matter will be heard by county supervisors during their February 3 board meeting.
- Dave Hawkins