They're letting it die
I've lived in Williams for a few years now. At first I was completely in love with this rustic, Rockwelliam little town, but as the years have passed I think I made a big error moving there.
Everything (and I do mean everything is far more expensive in Williams than any of the surrounding towns and the single grocery store, having the monopoly takes full advantage of this. It is completely insane when a family of two goes from Phoenix, spending around $275 per month for groceries to spening in excess of $650 a month for the same groceries. Gas is up to $1.00 higher than most stations outside of town and even the water is high. For the same household of two I spend over $100.00 per month and don't even water my lawn or have the pool I had in Phoenix where water cost less than $40.00 per month (topping off an ever-evaoprtaing pool). The property tax goes up at least 25% annualy as the house values plummet(explain that one), so the aveage person is stuck with and ever increasing disparity between income and outflow.
As soon as the economy downturn happened, many people either bailed out to a place where they made enough money to afford their house or just plain lost their house because wages don't even come close to covering just the mortages (let alone the insane grocery costs, utilities, and taxes). Because of this, around 25% of every neighborhood is full of empty houses. Susebquently the value is going down-down-down-down-down.
A day off from work, spent driving around town revealed a whole new perspective. The vacancies created are being filled with dregs. The town is filling up with the criminal aspect of illegal imigrants, meth addicts, and what looke like transients. I found the atmoshpere of the town that looked like a small town paradise several years ago now looking like the seedy areas of Phoenix (which I left for that very reason). The feel was depression, hopelessness, and it was like everyone gave up.
Spending time attending town meeting brought a lot to light of how and why this is happening. Any attempt at any enitity to bring business, jobs, attractions, or any kind of prosperity to the town is met with resistance. Apprarently the only interest this town has is the tourism by the Grand Canyon Railway only (They could spend thousands of dollars on an ugly wrought iron gateway but couldn't spend anything to keep the aquatic center open for the children). God forbid anyone else yield anything or benefit the town at all. Same goes for restuarants. New ones come and only get bullied out of town by the existing money-makers. Stores? Same thing. Just walk down the 66 now and you'll see more than 50% of all available shops have closed down. It's an example of the "good old boy" system gone bad.
Don't get me wrong. There are plenty of wonderful people in Williams. Genuine salt-of-the-earth people who would help you out and give you the shirt off of their backs if you needed it.
It's just the backwards thinking people in charge are letting the place become a slum or a ghost town. It's halfway towards the first one and if left unchecked could become the latter.
Truly sad. What was once a town I was so glad I moved to and could let the children play outside or walk to their friend's houses is now a place where you hear frequent sirens, hear stories about crime, drugs, and violence and now I drive the kids to the same friends houses and wonder why I left Phoenix so I could be stuck in a house that is worth less than half of what I am paying for and having the same neighborhood.
dave | Williams, AZ