Redevelopment Plan Grows, Funds Still A Question

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Since the spring of 1998, when a small group started meeting at the Rim Country Museum, the effort focusing on improving Main Street has grown.

In August 1998, the Payson Town Council appointed a 13-member committee and three council members to help identify problems in the area and draft a plan for Main Street. Community Development Director Bob Gould has been involved with the project from the beginning and has used his department's resources in working with the committee.

After a few meetings, the committee went to the Town Council and declared the Main Street improvement plan a redevelopment area.

Committee Chairman Dick Wolfe told those who had gathered at a public meeting Saturday morning at the Senior Center, "We started out talking about Main Street, but we also decided to do a redevelopment area for it. Basically, it includes an area south of Main Street."

Implementing the plan that the committee has been working on for the last eight months will take money, however. When the committee decided to look at property tax increment financing, the Payson Unified School District lobbied to the State Legislature and the law that enabled cities and towns to use the funding mechanism was repealed.

"We're now looking at federal and state grants that are available and sales tax increment financing," Wolfe said Monday. "The formula for the sales tax increment financing should not be a burden to anyone. It affects sales just within the boundaries of the redevelopment area. The town will get the sales tax they're getting now. Any additional sales tax would be reinvested back into the district."

Few improvements have been done along Main Street in recent years. Jason Philmore, a planner with the town's Community Development Department, estimates that in 1998, new construction on Main Street was $17,000, while the rest of the town had $9 million in new construction.

Wolfe told the group Saturday that much of the housing within the redevelopment area is substandard, but there are historic buildings that could and should be restored.

He described some of the construction within the redevelopment district as undesirable, unsafe and substandard.

"The Hillside Trailer Park has always been an eyesore," Wolfe said. "The Tribe bought this trailer park and we had high hopes for it, but nothing has happened."

An abandoned trailer on Frontier Street, other trailers at Hillside, and RVs that create living spaces for people but do little to upgrade the area are just a few of the things the committee wants to replace with an historic preservation project. Meanwhile, heavy industrial areas sit right next to residential areas on West Frontier Street.

"And Aero Drive is a hodge-podge of vehicles, trailers, you name it," Wolfe said.

A drilling company on McLane Road may not add to the aesthetic value of the area, but it is not illegal because of the way the property was zoned when the town inherited it from the county, he said.

The Green Valley Redevelopment Area has been captured in photos the committee has put together for a video presentation. Old and new photos of Main Street include the Herron Hotel, the Piper Saloon, and Bootleg Alley. There are pictures of fuel trucks from the late 1930s bumping along the dirt road that was Main Street and pictures of rodeo events that were staged there.

There's the historic and still-standing Ox Bow Saloon, and the Randall Plymouth car dealership where "Indian Joe spent a great deal of time holding down the rocking chair."

The video presentation is available to any group that requests it. For information, or to arrange for a presentation, contact Dick Wolfe at 474-6115 or Sharesse Von Strauss at 474-8392.

Wolfe said the committee should have the final plan for the redevelopment area before the Town Council in early September. "We'll be working on implementation and financing in August -- it'll be all bundled together and taken to the council."

The public is invited to attend monthly meetings of the committee held at the Rim Country Museum at 5:15 p.m. on the third Thursday of each month.

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