146 Do you have any ideas for the town plan?


Tom Garrett 3 years, 11 months ago

The first thing that occurs to me regarding the new town plan is that the majority of the planning will have to be done by the experts in the various divisions of the town. While we may be able to come up with some ideas for them, it is going to take a lot of hard work by Community Development; Parks, Recreation, and Tourism; Planning & Zoning; and Streets & Engineering to turn those ideas into realities. We have to keep that in mind.

So what is a town plan anyway, and why do we need one?

Fundamentally, a town plan covers the future use of land for housing, business, industry, agriculture, recreation, education, public buildings and grounds, open spaces, and anything else that is appropriate to an individual town. A lot of detailed planning ends up in Streets & Engineering Division, because that's where the most detailed planning has to take place. Plans have to include growth factors, including the type and location of residential, office, commercial, tourism, and industrial areas, and so a lot of the work falls on the shoulders of the people who see to it that we can get to and from home, school, work, shopping, and recreation.

The point is, of course, that we should keep our suggestions as general as possible, leaving the details to the experts. Our task is to provide a general vision, to let the town Council know how we feel. Once we've done that we have to step aside and let the experts have at it, and we must never forget that practical details may sometimes dictate what the result will look like and how it will function.

Payson faces a future which is very different from the future faced by most other municipalities, a special challenge that changes the equation. It is landlocked; it cannot grow beyond certain fixed limits. Surrounded on all sides, it must plan with special care.

The future of Payson, situated as it is, depends on the three legged stool of economic good health: A stable population, a recession-proof anchor business of some kind, and a reliable source of outside money.

For the time being, let's just talk about one of those factors: Our all-year-round population.


Tom Garrett 3 years, 11 months ago

Fortunately, the Quality of Life Index for Payson is very high: A soaring 162 compared to 100 for the nation as a whole and to 129 for Arizona in General. That has brought us a large all-year-round retirement community with a reliable income and very low demands on our infrastructure--such as schools and entertainment. We have only to take steps to ensure that the reasons we have that retirement community are carefully safeguarded, and if possible that they improved wherever possible.

We are very lucky that a major reason for the high Quality of Life Index enjoyed by Payson is weather, a whopping 197 compared to the 100 for the rest of the nation. With a mild four season climate, cool clear mountain air, reliable rainfall because of the lifting provided by the high country around us, and literally no negatives, Payson enjoys what many people feel is the ideal climate.

We do have one concern that has been stirring up our retirement community; a concern which has been growing over recent years: The tension between the flow of traffic through town and its overflow onto quiet residential streets. This was made plain by comments from people living on McLane Road during the preliminary planning meetings, and comments about it have appeared in the Roundup before. If we are to keep, and hopefully expand, our retirement community, isn't it time for us to think in terms of a 260 bypass? Yes, we need the flow of traffic from the Valley; it is vital to us. But what is important to us is the portion of that traffic which is likely to stop here to shop or eat. The remainder of the 260 traffic--most of it, in fact--drives straight through town, forcing local traffic onto side streets in frustration.

The truth is that ADOT is already planning a 260 bypass around Payson and nothing we do is going to stop it from coming; the demands of those who want only to get north of here are going to prevail. The numbers are against us. On a typical weekend day, more than twice the population of Payson passes through town. ADOT can count. So can the legislature. We would be wise to help in the planning of the nature and route of the bypass, ensuring that off-ramps make it easy for people to stop here to eat or shop. In truth, we may gain from the end result by making it more pleasant to come here on the weekends.

Okay, I'll stop right there. There is a lot more to be said about how we can work to make Payson even more attractive to potential retirees, but let's stop for now and focus on the question of a 260 bypass. I'd like to hear your opinion on it.


don evans 3 years, 11 months ago

Currently, I support the bypass concept. I know the local small business community will howl like a banchee to prevent it. As for me, I do not believe the ASU campus concept is going to happen. I think a lot of the local business and commercial realty have most of their chips in the pot hopeing it occurs. But, because of all that you have truthfully identified above, the businesses should focus on provideing goods and services to the "fixed" community population and it's demographics. Those that pass through town will find the business's they like and access them as needed, bypass or not. Making the East Verde River a fishing mecca in the summer is pie in the sky inmho. Have you seen the water levels recently. Do you really think they will rise significantly ongoing once the pipeline flows? Where will all the "weekend fisherman park?" to access the EV river public areas? Food for thought....I would encourage the Town to approch Magpul Inc. to relocate to the Payson airport area. They employ a good number of people and it's a clean industry (Mfg of Firearm accessories). They are seriously considering leaving Colorado. The town blew getting Ruger Firearms to locate here (they wanted too) in the 70's. They now make golf clubs along with firearms....


Pat Randall 3 years, 11 months ago

It isn't tourist that is speeding on N. McLane. Think about it, look at a map. All tourist don't turn on to 260. A lot of them keep traveling N. on 87. Sit at the intersection some weekend and watch.

Do you want a retiree town or a college town? Can't be both.


Tom Garrett 3 years, 11 months ago

"Currently, I support the bypass concept."

I do too.

I have only one caveat: Since I am not someone who owns a business in Payson, a business which may thrive or die depending on what is done, I don't want to TELL people what to do. Suggest? Sure. But tell, no.

My thinking is that ADOT has already made it plain that the only thing holding up a 260 bypass is money. That being the case, the minute the money is found a bypass is going to go in. What we don't want to have happen is having Payson being left out of the loop in the planning. It is vital to Payson that wherever the bypass begins south of town it should be VERY easy to stay on 87/260 and come here. It should also be VERY easy to come here, stop, eat or shop, and get back on 260 afterward. Payson is located almost the perfect distance from the valley to be a stopover on the way north--about 125 miles, give or take. That means that it is natural for people to plan to stop here on the way north, and we have to do everything we can to facilitate that. Which in turn means we have to be in on the planning!

We'll talk about the campus plan later, but for right now I think it is something we need not worry about. The Alliance is working on it. My comment? Let them work, but we'll talk about what that area could mean to us when we get done talking about our permanent residents.

Pat, you are of course correct. It is not tourists who travel our side streets; it is our own residents. The question are why do they do it, what can, and should, be done about it, and how much of a problem it is.

Tourists headed up 87 have no reason to get onto McLane or other residential streets. It's US--you and me--who do it. Why? The town is in grid lock at times. Knowing the back roads is a God send. One solution is to make sure that the 87/260 intersection doesn;t become a parking lot. Personally, I think the light at that intersection is THE best set up light I have ever seen. It functions perfectly, so I fail to see what anyone could do to make it better. So I suppose all we can do is wait for the 260 bypass to take some of the pressure off.

As to Mclane and other side streets, what I have seen with my own eyes is a lot of cars that are driven by school kids. Is there some way to fix cut down on that? I don't know. That's up to the Streets and Engineering people and the high school. I hope they wor on it, but I'm not going to tell them what to do, just that I wish they would do something.

As the problem in general of people using side streets to stay off crowded main streets, it will always happen. Things like speed humps, narrowing, and so on solve nothing. I fact they just make things worse. I suggest that when the money is available, the town should do its best to create a network of better paved, wider, side streets wherever possible. Beyond that, I am out of expertise.


Tom Garrett 3 years, 11 months ago

There are some other things we need to think about as far as residents are concerned.

Payson MUST keep its retirement community. It is the most important leg of the three legged stool of a stable town economy. Retirees bring a recession-proof income, but place very little added burden on the town as far as schools, streets, and other costs are concerned. They also bring hundreds of willing, involved volunteers, as well as talent, experience, and business savvy.

I'm probably preaching to the choir here, but any plans for Payson's future should include the expansion of modest single family dwellings located in areas that are as far away from commercial areas as possible. I haven't the slightest doubt the town is already working on that, but I'd like to ask everyone to talk about what should be done.

I'll prime the pump to let you see what I mean. Retirees are not people who sit around and listen to their arteries harden. They tend to be active, healthy, and ready to begin doing the things they planned on doing when it came time to set aside the daily grind. When I first came here there were a lot of stores that catered to such people, but the false surge in housing values caused many of them to go out of business as rental prices soared.

There was for example, a store that carried hobby materials. Partly fired ceramics. Clay, paints, many oher things. It, along with a dozen or so other small shops, were a large part of the reason that Lolly and I came here. When they went we talked about pulling up stakes and leaving, even though it would have been a hard thing to do. Three couples we knew did exactly that.

Payson needs to find ways of encouraging the return of such shops. How? Don't ask me. I am not a businessman. But I'll say this: If you want people to come here you have to see to it that they can find the things they are searching for. Otherwise they will not come.

Ideas? Places we could build low-rent shopping? The kind of shops we might attract?

As I have already said, Payson has an excellent Quality of Life Index, especially where its weather is concerned, and GCC adds a lot to that, as do PRMC, the many churches, and the magnificent countryside we enjoy. But one place where Payson could use some improvement is in activities that involve people who at last have time on their hands to do what they always planned to do. We need to look for ways to involve those people. The Air Force, believe it or not, had a similar problem when I was in the service, and no doubt still has--something for thousands of dependents to do. As a result, on a typical Air Force base there would be a woodworking hobby shop, base library, ceramics hobby shop, auto hobby shop, and so on. Sometimes there was even a very active Little Theater group, one or more choirs or musical groups, and so on.

Any ideas?


Pat Randall 3 years, 11 months ago

Join the Senior Circle. They plan things for seniors all the time. There is also the Senior Center. They play cards have dances. There are the lakes to fish. Theater, bowling alley. Golf course. Don't forget all the walking trails that have been built. Swimming pool at Rumsey Park and the Reservation. There is the Casino they can donate money to. Read the paper, they have a page of meetings and things to do or places to go. By the time people are old enough to retire they should be able to figure out how to amuse them selves.

There are plenty of things to do in Payson for Seniors and the kids. They need to get up off thier rears from in front of thier computers bitching and go do something. Clean up thier yards if nothing else. I see a lot of them that need it.

Look around Tom, there are a lot of empty single family, duplexes, townhouses, condos and any other kind of housing for any age and price.

We certainly don't need any more fast foods, junk shops, antique, car repairs, alcohol sales, exercise places, beauty shops or vets.

If Payson doesn't have to offer what people want, let them go somewhere else. They know what is here before they invest in a house. And if they don't they don't need to try and change things to like where they came from. The road runs two ways.


Tom Garrett 3 years, 11 months ago

"Join the Senior Circle."

Lot of good ideas.

"By the time people are old enough to retire they should be able to figure out how to amuse them selves."

I agree with that. What I'm saying is that when people have money they want to spend on things we make a mistake not having shops where they can buy them. As far as I know there isn't a single shop left in Payson where people can buy anything to do with the things that interest retirees, especially retired women. There used to be four of them when I moved here, and that was before the population grew.

According to clr.search, 93% of the households in Payson moved during 1999 or later (could either be moving in or just moving around). That matches Arizona fairly well, with 93.5%. That's a whopping 5,922 households. The census shows that there has been an 87% growth in population since 1990, and 19% of that occurred since 2000. Compare it with 95 through 98; only 189 households, or just 3%.

That growth partly explains why Payson of 2013 is so different of the Payson of 1983 when I saw it the second time. In 1983, Payson had grown quite a bit since 1958, but it still was a very small town. I really don't remember any large stores like Safeway or Walmart at all. It just kind of exploded in between then and the time we finally got up here, and during that first big growth spurt up to 1990 there were all kinds of great little stores that Lolly loved. Find one now. Women do not want to move to the sticks so they can stare out the window.

Want a significant fact? An incredible 48% of the people in Payson are of retirement age. That's a BIG slice of the population. And it matches the 48% of the people in Payson who say they are "not in the labor force" during the last census. I guess the numbers tell it all: 1980: just 5,100 people. 1990: 8,400. 2000: 13,600 Now: over 16,000

"Look around Tom, there are a lot of empty single family, duplexes, townhouses, condos and any other kind of housing for any age and price."

Sure. Because of the downturn in construction we've lost a lot of working people. Only makes sense. But with retirees it's not what is available, it's where! Small single family homes on quiet streets, away from the traffic, and away from anything commercial is what they want. Again, I know I am preaching to the choir when i talk about it, but city planners have to keep that in mind when approving development.


Pat Randall 3 years, 11 months ago

When we first moved back to Payson in 1993 after being away for over 40 yrs. there were a lot of changes. Some good some terrible.

There was a Town plan at the time for a by pass. I think it it was to start south of the Reservation and come into Tyler Parkway, which has since been renamed Rim Club Parkway south of 260. There was a town map showing where it would go. But money talks and Rim Club and Chaparral Pines didn't want traffic coming thru thier area.

The idea they have been working on would turn at the Event Center, over the hill and come into the street that goes N. to the Airport and I forget where they were coming back into the highway but it was a dumb idea. My opinion.


Kim Chittick 3 years, 11 months ago

Tom, there are still a couple of great little hobby/craft type stores that sell the kind of things that appeal to retirees. Admittedly it is mostly, but not all, "lady" type interests, but, you asked...one is Paper and Metal Scrappers, located in Sawmill Crossing. This is a great craft store where they sell things that it would take me a lifetime just to figure out what they are! Scrapbooking materials, papers, and doo dads. Trimmers, cutters, stencils, ink pads, stamps...oh my goodness, I don't know what else. They also have some type of class or get together going on most every day. They do "make and take" classes, They usually have a pot of coffee on, the fixings for a nice cup of tea, and being women, they always have some sort of "goody". See Barbara and she will take great care of you. There is also, Black and Tan Tales, located in, ummm I think it is called Tonto Plaza? West side of the highway behind Time Out Thrift Store. This is a great little shop which sells a limited supply of fabric and yarn, as well as all sorts of supplies needed for most types of painting, along with supplies for jewelry making, and many other crafts. They also specialize in printing t-shirts and will accept an order for one shirt, rather than requiring a huge number of shirts before accepting an order, and they can accomodate custom designs. They also have an embroidery machine for embroidering on shirts, aprons, hats, and other textiles. The owner, LeAnne has special ordered shirts for me and printed several with custom designs created by my husband, and we are thrilled with them and always receive huge compliments on them.

I am of two minds regarding a bypass. Like Pat said, I too have been hearing about a bypass since I moved here in '94. I'll believe it when I see it.

As for an ASU satellite campus, or whatever they are calling it now, ya know, Payson needs some revitalization, a shot in the arm, so to speak. I would love to say, NO, nobody else can come, but that is just not realistic, nor is it going to be beneficial to our town. Payson was withering. I have hopes that the 3 national chains that have come will be able to make a go of it. I intend to patronize those businesses as often as I can. As for them pushing local businesses out...I just don't see it. Perhaps they may galvanize some of the local businesses to get off their behinds and start offering a little better customer service. But if a small local business is serving it's customers satisfactorily, those customers won't leave for a national chain.


Pat Randall 3 years, 11 months ago

Customer service is more important than the product they sell.


Kim Chittick 3 years, 11 months ago

Exactly Pat, that is my point!! To be honest, if I am going to be treated casually and like just another customer, I would prefer doing so and paying the lower prices at the national chain stores. I don't mind paying a bit more at the locally owned shops, but, darnit, treat me like you appreciate me doing so. Point of fact, I will be using the pet grooming services at Pet Smart, due to the fact that too many of the groomers here in town are ridiculously expensive, only work when they feel like it, have attitudes, are mean to the dogs, or are just so booked that it takes weeks, if not months to get an appointment. When possible, I shop our little Ace rather than Home Depot, because of the exemplary customer service that Ace has. Treat me right and I will be loyal for life, screw me over and forget it!!


Tom Garrett 3 years, 11 months ago

"Tom, there are still a couple of great little hobby/craft type stores that sell the kind of things that appeal to retirees."

I am really glad to hear that. I guess the sudden rise in rents in the Swiss Village and the Bashas shopping center is what drove people out of there.

"They also have some type of class or get together going on most every day."

Great! Wonderful! Just the kind of thing we need.

"I am of two minds regarding a bypass. Like Pat said, I too have been hearing about a bypass since I moved here in '94. I'll believe it when I see it."

Me too--of two minds, that is. I think we need a bypass. I think the traffic warrants it. I honestly believe it will be good for Payson. But....

As I said, I don't own a shop or restaurant in Payson, and my point of view is that the Town Council should take a hard look at the question and make a fair and reasoned judgment. In truth, I have watched some very popular restaurants close, ones that were here for a long time and were doing well, and I have asked myself why. The answer, I found in one case was that one of them--and maybe two, I'm not sure--was owned by the person who opened Fargos, who closed them after Fargos opened. You tell me why.

I like Ace too. Back when I was active in working on the house my choice of places were Ace and Foxworth. The reason was service.

As to the ASU campus, that's the second lleg of the three legged stool. Let's talk about it.


Tom Garrett 3 years, 11 months ago

As I said at the beginning, a small town like Payson, New London, or Natchitoches that is land-locked has to rely on the good old fashioned three legged stool of economics: A solid base of permanent residents who care about the town, a recession-proof anchor industry, and some way of bringing in outside money.

The one day to be forthcoming ASU campus is the ideal recession-proof anchor industry. I have read worried comments about what happens when college kids turn a town upside down, but those worries do not match the reality of what a small college town is like.

Example? Natchitoches, Louisiana. Go there. Look around. Walk the quiet downtown area in the evenings. You'll find yourself asking, "Where are all the college kids?"

I'll tell you where they are: Getting an education. The image that people always worry about is the image of the huge state and private schools. But when you look at the kind of small extension campus we are going to have that image does not fit. The kids are there to get a degree, not to boogie.

Here's are some number to make you think:

Population of Natchitoches, La, 18,000--not counting the college kids.

Number of kids in Northwestern State University: 9,200

And yet Natchitoches is the quietest place on the planet. Go there. See for yourself. In fact, go there to see the prettiest--and smartest--little town in the Old South. Natchitoches decided to keep its rich southern heritage, to use it to draw people to town, and is a thriving community. It has 42 separate festivals of one kind or another through the year. People come there to see the beautiful countryside, the old plantations, the wonderful fishing (lots of lakes and streams), and the great little cajun restaurants.

Natchitoches is model for Payson to follow. Be proud of your heritage. Let it show. Use it. Build on it. We all love the Rim Country; that's why we're here. Let's let other people see why we love it. That, we'll get into as soon as we finish talking about the ASU campus.

The main things about the campus? One, what a beautiful location. On the opposite side of town from the residential area, yet close to shopping. So we build places for the kids to live an places where they can get out and eat and have fun. We let our traffic people plan the traffic flow. We make sure we have plenty of places to house the faculty and staff. We tie GCC into the plan. And we enjoy the result.

That's about the way I see it.

Just one caveat. ASU or some other state university. NO private schools. Especially no sports schools. That would change the whole character of town.


Tom Garrett 3 years, 11 months ago

Oops! Took too long editing my post. Must be some kind of timer. The edit didn't take.

Please forgive typos. And this important comment didn't make it in.

I have one more caveat. The campus--with 2,000 college kids in it--is going to be on the side of town where there are four speed trap cameras. The main reason I have been harping on the speeds traps over there, the reason I drove over there and looked to see them myself, is because Payson cannot afford to have its future ruined by a nasty image. College kids are not going to come here if we develop a reputation as a nasty little town with speed traps in it, and it won't make one bit of different to the kids where the town line is drawn. Those cameras must go--either that or there have to be some BIG changes in the length of time allowed to get down to 45 mph.

To the future of Payson, image is everything.

Great image; great future. Bad image; no future.


Tom Garrett 3 years, 11 months ago

Okay, the third leg of the three legged stool: Viable, long term ways of bringing money in from the outside so our local businesses can thrive.

On that score, Payson's future looks great.

A few ideas.

The main one is to use Payson's western heritage as a drawing card. We already have the rodeo. Good! We already have the event center. Good! Now we need some more events, and the more of them that involve the idea of "Western" the better off we are.


Western is an easy concept to to picture about, isn't it? You only need to think "Old West" and images spring into your head. Cowboys. Cowgirls. Horses. All the rest.

We Americans love our western heritage. We can't seem to get enough of it. So let's take advantage of it. Payson is a part of that heritage. People will love it!

Anything we can do that says "Old West" will attract visitors. Horse shows. One on one horse races. Quiet rides down wooded trails. Anything.

I was even looking around as I drove home to Pine through Payson one day and noticed the difference between the Pioneer Village Trading Post on one side of 87 and the Swiss Village on the other side. The Pioneer Village drew my attention like a magnet. It felt good just to look at it as I went by. The Swiss Village? Nice, I thought, but not western. On the way into town the next time I was looking at the Swiss Village and wondering what it would look like with the high frame fronts that Main Street has in the old pictures. It formed a great image in my mind. Looked like the Payson I had in mind when I moved here.

Could we do that? Make both sides of 87 say "western," I mean? We could. I'd be happy if we did, but I don't say that we have to do it. I'll leave that to wiser heads--and to the people that would have to spend the money. But I'd sure love it if Payson looked more western. It's a beautiful image to me. We could do little things all over town.

Far more important is how we manage the tourist trade. Right now we have to depend on people finding out about us, driving up here, and MAYBE stopping to eat or shop for a few weekend groceries. I think we can do better.

It would make a big difference to our economy if we could arrange things so that people came here, stayed right in town for a few days, or at least overnight, and did their traveling around from here. We are going to have a large hotel in the campus area. Great! Just what we need, a collecting place.

So what do we do?

Let's separate day trips from an overnight or longer stay.

First, day trips. Come here. Park in a nice safe parking area. Get out your hiking boots, hop on a horse we provide, or in a van, or even on a bus depending on where you are going.

On foot? Forest trails with a guide who takes you to all the best sights. Lots of camera opportunities. Maybe a snack; maybe not. All depends on what you choose. Everything that is carried in is carried back out.

Horseback? Different trails, but the same idea.



Tom Garrett 3 years, 11 months ago

Vans? Trips up along the Rim Trail. Trips to the many sites around Rim Country. Out Houston Mesa way. Stopping here and there to see the natural beauty around you. A million pictures to take. A nice meal, either before, during, or after. Lots of safe fun...and no trash left along the way.

A bus or a larger van? Maybe. It would be a lot more fun, and a lot more sensible for people who want to go to the natural bridge. It's a bit boring to just go look at it. Why not a guide to tell you about what you're seeing? And Fossil Creek would be a lot better off if people were brought down there in vans, enoyed a day of fun, and came back to town to eat, rest, and enjoy a night in a good hotel--maybe with a country and western band.

There could be package tours. The Rim Country has done a lot to make itself a good place to be. Look at the restored Zane Grey cabin. We could add walks and talks, sell a few books, maybe even do a horseback ride that went up to area south of the natural bridge that Grey talks about in his book, "Tales of Lonely Trails."

How about square dancing? Will the new hotel have place for it? Could we hold them somewhere else? What about the tradition of Payson as a place where dances started on Friday night and ended on Monday?

Payson has history. That history says WESTERN in capital letters. We have some of the most magnificent country in the world up here. We just need to do four things:

  1. Work with the Forest Service to partner with them in keeping our forests pristine.

  2. Create starting places for tours into and around the Rim Country.

  3. Build plenty of hotel space to hold, feed, and entertain tourists.

  4. Develop a business plan to get things moving and advertise what we have to offer.

Is that a very general plan? Sure. What do I know about details?

Okay, I'll bet you have about a million ideas how we can turn Payson into a tourist's Mecca, working hand-in-hand with the Alliance, working closely with the Forest Service, and avoiding any changes in the look and feel of our residential areas.

The ball is now in your court.


Pat Randall 3 years, 11 months ago

Thats all we need is more motels with empty rooms, even during rodeo time. Go talk to the hotel owners. I did.
What happened to the hotel and convention center that was to be built at the Event Center when the land was sold to the town? It was in the deed restrictions by the seller. One person makes a success of some kind of business so ten more people decide to put in the same thing. Competition is great but not the way it has been done in Payson. Traffic people take care of traffic? What a joke, if they are the ones that design the streets and give one street two or three different names, or name 4 of them the same. Gila circle, there are four of them I know of. Tyler parkway changed at 260 to Rim club parkway. Rumsey street changes to Malibu when it crosses 87. Main st. changes names three times going to the west in less than two miles when you get near Green Valley Park.


Tom Garrett 3 years, 11 months ago


Are you for or against having enough rooms to house the additional tourists we hope to attract here? Your post seemed to be leaning both ways.

"Thats all we need is more motels with empty rooms, even during rodeo time."

"What happened to the hotel and convention center that was to be built at the Event Center when the land was sold to the town?"

What about some ideas to attract people to Payson, folks?

Surely there must be lots of them.

And what do you think about the basic idea of collecting people up in groups and taking them on hikes, horseback rides, and vans to places? The idea being that we are trying to make Payson into a tourist destination instead of a place that tourists just zoom though?

Don't want any growth in tourist dollars in the town plan?

It's not my town. I'm just trying to help. If you want to shut the gate now that you're here we can talk about ways to do that. It's up to you.


Tom Garrett 3 years, 10 months ago

Since this string seems to have dribbled to and end, I'll just add something that I have been meaning to say when we got to this point: I don't live in Payson, but I shop there, and when Lolly was well we used to spend quite a bit of time there one way or another. And so i think of it as my adopted home town.

From time to time, I've seen a lot of carping about what the various departments do. There always seems to be someone unhappy about some road that needs repair, or something about the library, or some change in something or other, but in my 30 years of watching Payson grow I can honestly say that I think it is one of the best run little towns I have ever seen--and in my travels around this country I have seen, and lived in, a lot of towns.

I'd just like to say thanks, and wish the town planners good luck in what must be a hard job--trying to peer into a future that is downright murky at the moment and come up with a plan that will create a bright future for Payson. Since today is my 81st birthday, it's unlikely that I will see much of that future, but I hope it's good one.



Kim Chittick 3 years, 10 months ago


You know...when I moved here in the early '90's, there was a lot of stuff to do. We had the June Bug Blues festival, which I know Shakey Joe founded and headed up, but honestly, is he the only person who could do something like that? The Chamber mixers were a much bigger deal and much more public than they seem to be now. There were great town organized team sports. I even played on an adult softball team for part of a season (I'm not very athletic and it was decided that I made a better cheerleader than ballplayer!!) The rodeo and events surrounding it, seemed...friendlier, more open, accessible. I even considerd being a rodeo girl, but was too busy at the time, then when I had the time, eeeek, they had become a A LOT less...uuumm...modest, shall we say??

I am a firm proponent that if you are bored, it is your own fault. There are all sorts of opportunities for volunteering, Time Out, the Humane Society, Habitat for Humanity, Payson Hospital, Zane Grey Museum, Tonto Natural Bridge, Rim Country Chamber of Commerce. There are college classes at Gila Community College Campus. There are groups aplenty to join, Payson Hikers, Senior Circle, romeo's, and juliet's, many churches, if one wants badly enough to be occupied,, there is always something, but it won't come knocking at your front door, you have to go out and find it.


Pat Randall 3 years, 10 months ago

Happy Birthday Tom and many more.

Tom the town is always planning new things and never follow thru. "They" are part of why most of the events are gone. To many new restrictions they come up with and want to be the head of everything. If they had left Nethkens alone with the Oxbow when they were redoing it, there would now be a busy down town Main St. There has to be a hub and we ain't got it.

How about the walkway down American Gulch, the waterfall off the mountain behind Chilsons. How about the college that was going to open in 2012?

The rodeo grounds should have been left at Rumsey Park. A lot of people that come to the rodeo now don't even know there is a town on down the street. We had a car load of people stop us as we were going into the event center and wanted to know if there was any place near to get something to eat besides the Sonic.

What does the C of C do? A few years back I had a list of all licensed business in Payson and a membership of C of C members. There were as many or more out of town business listed as members than ones in Payson. What does that tell you?


Tom Garrett 3 years, 10 months ago

Thanks, Pat. I hope you're not right about the town, though. It would be discouraging to see Payson go the way New London did. We are who we are, and when we try to deny that and become something else the inevitable result is that we fall flat on our faces.

Payson is part of Arizona, Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, Montana, Oregon, California, New Mexico, and Nevada--the Great West. We have a rich heritage, one that all Americans treasure because it is the living image of our last frontier, the last time that Americans stood tall and proved they had what it took to tame a harsh but beautiful land. I didn't come here to see Payson changed into something I could have seen by staying where I was in East Texas. If we do not wrap our arms around our rich western heritage we are headed for the exact same fate that has claimed my once-beloved New London.

The last time I looked up New London in Wikipedia they had pulled the comment, but when I first went there and read what it had to say it started with, "New London, a small dirty town in southern Connecticut...."

They had it right.


Tom Garrett 3 years, 10 months ago

When I arrived in New London in 1943 I could not get over the sense of history. It was like living in the center of the days that created America. Everywhere I looked I saw history. As I walked to Nathan Hale Junior High every day I passed by the little red schoolhouse in which Nathan Hale had taught before he went off to fight for freedom. On the way to the main street of town I passed sixteen glorious old houses, one of them the tall, white-pillared Mount Vernon estate of Colonel Jedediah Huntington, built when he returned from fighting the British. All of Huntington Street, where our own house stood tall and proud, was lined from end to end with stately homes.

I managed to get one of the few precious jobs at Ocean Beach, and worked there every summer for five years. In the summer you could not find an empty hotel or motel room in town, and many houses within walking distance of the beach had one or two spare rooms that rented for four times the rental of a fair sized home. Busloads of people, sometimes as many as thirty busloads a day, spilled tourists out into the parking lot at the beach. In the afternoon the small stand in which I worked was so deeply surrounded by people that it grew dark inside.

All year round tourists trod the sidewalks of town, going from one old historic house to another. I used to see them by the dozens, roaming Ye Antientist Cemetery, making charcoal rubbings of the headstones and reading the bronze plaque set into the foot of a grassy knoll telling how Benedict Arnold had stood there and watched New London burn, but had scurried off when a musket held in the hands of the wife of a patriot misfired.

On days when the oldest gristmill in New England was open you could not find a parking place for a block around it. What a thing it was to watch that old overshot water wheel start turning, and to think that it had been grinding out flour for over three hundred years.


Tom Garrett 3 years, 10 months ago

It seemed that every other house in town had a name. The Hempstead House (1678), the Bunner House (1780), the Huguenot House (1758), the Shaw Mansion (1756, which had housed George Washington and the Marquis de Lafayette), Whale Oil Row on Huntington street (an entire row of Neo Grecian homes deigned and built prior to 1830 by Ezra Chapel), the Crocker House, the Winthrop House, the Williams Mansion, the Stewart House, the oldest courthouse in New England standing at the top of State Street since 1784, so many, many more.

Each house had a tale to tell. When Benedict Arnold led British troops into New London the Hempstead family threw its silver and valuables into the well. Later, some of it was recovered, but it wasn't until 1938, when a diver from the U. S Submarine Base across the river went down into the well that the majority of it was at last brought up.

People lined up to get into the Whaling Museum, the old revolutionary days Armory where George Washington had sat and planned his strategy. A walk down Main Street would take you past houses with plaques honoring famous New Londoners.

Across the street from our house was Stony Hill, the oldest cobblestoned street in town, lined on both sides by houses as old as the town itself. Hill Street, Richards Street, and Shapley Street ran from Huntington Street at the top of the hill to Main Street down below, all of them lined with pre-revolutionary homes. We had a half dozen lakes for ice skating, hills for winter sledding, a pure clean river deep enough to float a battleship. Million dollars yachts docked at the foot of State Street. It was like living in a storybook.

A four lane highway ran by just outside town. There was full train service to the historic old train station at the foot of State Street. Every candidate that ran for office while I was living there stopped in New London. Harry Truman, for one, and I do not know how many senators and representatives. I have a picture of me and Bob Taft Senior--Mister Republican!--sitting side by side at the counter in the bus station in 1948. The picture in the newspaper made quite a stir among the girls at Chapman Tech even though I told them it was pure coincidence that he decided to sit down next to me, shake my hand, and have a chat. I was 16 and that shook me up a bit, I don't mind telling you.


Tom Garrett 3 years, 10 months ago

Where is all that now? The last time I drove into New London--the last time I will ever do it--where white pillared Mount Vernon had stood there was an A & P Supermarket. Where centuries old buildings had lined Huntington Main Street, and the streets that connected them, there was nothing--all of it, several square miles had gone under the wrecking ball in the name of "redevelopment." Yes, there was nothing, unless you want to count high rises and apartment buildings erected to house welfare people streaming up from the south--a "free money" idea bought into by a demented town council.

Mile long Main Street no longer exists. There is no such street. The historic old Fort Trumball part of town lining the river is gone, the entire area reduced to rubble so that housing for Pfizer workers to live in could be built next to a planned Pfizer factory. (Remember Kelo v. New London in the Supreme Court, an eminent domain case that prompted Arizona to pass a new law?) That error cost New London $30 million, money which will never be recovered because Pfizer, faced with bad publicity, pulled out of the deal and left New London with a vast scar now used as a garbage dump and the threat of going into receivership. Did it? I don't know. I wish I could say I don't care.

The solid body of permanent residents that made New London what it was? The entire working community? The solid base of retirees? The rich tourist trade. Gone. Fled from a town gone mad in denial of its heritage and its once solid tourist base. Ocean Beach? Empty. Downtown? Dirty, gray, and barren. The stately homes that once WERE New London. Gone forever--as is any chance of New London ever recovering.

We are what we are. When we deny it, when we toss our heritage in the trash, we throw away our future along with it.


Tom Garrett 3 years, 10 months ago

Sorry. I only received this news today, so I was unable to pass it on to you earlier.

"Tuesday, March 5th: Town of Payson General Plan Workshop, Public Meeting. 6 pm, Payson Public Library. The General Plan will determine traffic circulation, zoning for education, industrial, and housing; and many other aspects over the next 10 years. Please try to attend and give input on the future of our town."


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