Last-Ditch Effort To Move Library Site Loses Ground

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The new Payson Public Library will be built in Rumsey Park despite a flurry of rumors to the contrary that sprang from one town councilmember's now-aborted efforts to move the project to Main Street.

As recently as Tuesday, Councilmember Barbara Brewer said she was working with "a couple of other councilmembers ... to find a way to make (the library) part of the redevelopment and historical area.

"There are some real workable solutions which would not delay (completion of the library) by a whole lot," she said. "And it might be to everyone's advantage to hold off a month or two until everything is put into place."

But according to Mayor Ray Schum, other councilmembers, town staff members, library director Terry Morris and Library Friends president Judy Buettner, the plans that have been in place for two years are not going to change.

"I wouldn't derail (the plan to build the library at Rumsey Park) for anything in the world," Schum said. "As far as I'm concerned, every bit of influence I have will be used to build that library where we've planned. Why would we spend more money for more design reviews and all that?"

Although Vice Mayor Dick Wolfe was an early advocate of building the library within the Green Valley redevelopment area surrounding Main Street, that goal is "simply not logical at this point," he said, "unless some individual is willing to come forward and say, 'Here's a $300,000 piece of land I'm giving you for the library.'

"Yes, I've supported having it down there," Wolfe said. "But now, I don't see how it can possibly happen. I just want to move forward and (build the library at Rumsey Park)."

One strategy Brewer wanted to pursue involved plans to buy land on Main Street for a town Parks and Recreation activity center. Brewer hoped the town could build the library on that Main Street land, and put the recreation center in Rumsey Park where the library is slated for construction.

That plan would provide nice fits for the park and the redevelopment area, town engineer LaRon Garrett said, but not at this stage.

A library site switch would require "totally wiping out the civil design and starting over," Garrett said, "since that (design) has to do with the lay of the land. The (library) building design was created to fit in with the elements in Rumsey Park, and if you moved anything, you'd have to re-do it to fit the elements of (the new site).

"As a private citizen, I think it would be great to have (the library) in the Green Valley redevelopment area if this would have been done two years ago," Garrett said. "At this point, I would rather see it go (in at Rumsey) and not redesign it."

One of Brewer's allies on the council, she said Tuesday, was Bryan Siverson, who "also wants to see (the library) on Main Street."

When first contacted, Siverson said that it was an idea that he felt was worthy of further discussion, and in fact hoped to add the topic to the agenda of a special council meeting. But within hours of that conversation, he changed his mind.

"It's not going to be on the agenda," Siverson said. "(The library project is) just too far along where it's at. So it's not even an issue."

Library officials are emphatic in their agreement. Library Friends president Judy Buettner said, "Two years ago, when we were first working on this, my first preference would have been Main Street. But it didn't work out. So we're real happy with our Rumsey Park site."

"I think we've worked way too hard and way too long on this project where it is," Payson library director Terry Morris said.

"The library is desperately needed for this community, and in all fairness to the architect and everyone who has donated money, I think we need to move forward as planned."

By Thursday morning, Brewer's view of the site-switch plan had changed.

"It's dead in the water," she said.

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