Council To Revise Gazebo Policy


The Payson Town Council will consider changing a town code Thursday that currently prohibits churches and religious groups from using the gazebo at Green Valley Park.

Town Attorney Sam Streichman will ask the council during its 6 p.m. meeting at Town Hall for permission to delete from the town code content-based restrictions on park usage, such as those based upon religious activities.

However, he also will ask the council for permission to prepare an ordinance that restricts the use of the gazebo to town-sponsored events.

According to Assistant Town Attorney Jeff Blilie, the idea is to clean up those sections of the town code that were written before the gazebo was built.

"We're basically asking the council's permission to declare the gazebo a non-public forum, and to take out any references to religion," Blilie said.

In his request to the council, Streichman pointed out that "content-based restrictions on park activities, such as those based upon religious activities, can create problems under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution."

If the council OKs Streichman's request, the wording of the ordinance will be developed by his office for presentation to the council at a later meeting.

The council also will consider letting Town Manager Rich Underkofler submit a $350,000 application for a federal grant for landscaping and scenic beautification of a two-mile section of the Highway 87 right-of-way from the Beeline-Highway 260 intersection to Payson's southern boundary. If awarded, the grant requires a 5.7-percent match of state funds, and would not reach the construction phase for about 36 months.

The project would enhance and complement a $362,000 project to improve traffic safety at the Beeline-Highway 260 intersection on which ADOT and the Town of Payson would share costs on a 75 percent to 25 percent basis. The intersection improvement would be scheduled, bid, and built in conjunction with the enhancement project.

Underkofler also is asking for council permission to submit a $300,000 application for a federal transportation grant for landscaping and scenic beautification along Main Street from Highway 87 to McLane Road consistent with the territorial design theme of the Green Valley Redevelopment Area.

The council also will consider an agreement that will improve dispatching services and radio communications throughout the Town of Payson and in areas such as Star Valley and Whispering Pines. Requested by Payson Fire Chief John Ross, the agreement with RadioLink Corporation would authorize use of radio repeaters and base station transmitters located on Diamond Point Mountain east of Payson.

The town receives annual fees from several outlying fire districts for dispatching and infrastructure enhancement services, and Ross anticipates the dispatching improvements will cause additional fire districts to contract with the town.

Among the items the council will consider at a 5 p.m. special work-study meeting preceding the regular meeting are four design options for improvements to McLane Road from Forest Drive to Airport Road. The options were developed at the request of the council at its June meeting in response to concerns from two area property owners.

No decisions are made at work-study sessions, which are intended to provide a forum for sharing information and improving communication. Agenda items are determined by the mayor and two rotating council members from applications filed by citizens.

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