To better plan for the future, volunteers on the Green Valley Redevelopment Area started by studying the past.
The original town map of Payson was recorded in 1929, and provided a wide range of land uses, from residential to commercial. In those days, Main Street was just that the main street in town where folks could do their banking, mail a letter, shop for groceries, buy a new shirt and even attend the August Doin's.
The evolution of the automobile enticed businesses closer to highways 87 and 260, thus blurring Main Street's image as the focal point of town.
The Green Valley Redevelopment committee hopes to regenerate interest in returning Main Street to its original status.
"This was started by the historical society," said chairman Dick Wolfe. "We felt that Main Street is a very important part of our history and our heritage. We decided to get a group together down at the museum and see what we could do."
It's not the first time folks have tried to create a uniform theme along Main Street.
"This is the third effort; this is the third time we've tried to redo Main Street," Wolfe said. "The first two times were strictly private efforts. They needed support from the town, and didn't get it. This third time, we brought the town to the table for the first time. They've been a full partner in this effort.
"The intent of this plan is not to compete with the highways to bring these uses (banks, post office, grocery stores) back to the Main Street area, for that would surely be a foolish and futile effort," Wolfe said. "The intent is to identify the means to have the Main Street area play an important role in regards to the master plan for the Town of Payson."
The redevelopment committee was formed in August of 1998. The project boundary is the Beeline Highway on the east, McLane Road and Oak Street on the west, and Bonita and Summit streets on the north. The southern boundary joins U.S. Forest Service land, and land owned by the Tonto Apaches.
One of the keys to re-energizing interest in Main Street redevelopment has been the Kaibab Industries' Sawmill Crossing shopping center a development that has been put on the back burner more often than Aunt Betty's chili.
Falling into place
Now that Kaibab is once again moving forward with its project, Wolfe and Main Street Coordinator Sharesse Von Strauss expect most everything else to fall in place.
Another aspect of the project is recreating design standards for businesses moving to the Main Street area.
"We're going to adopt a design review that will set the theme for the area," Wolfe said. "That will have an impact on the people already down there. They'll see this, and they'll want to be a part of it."
To help existing businesses comply with the new designs, Wolfe said the committee has found grants that are available to help build new facades, and there will be other incentives to attract compliance.
"(Sharesse) has been down there talking with all of the businesses, and they're all very excited about this project," Wolfe said.
"The historical society wants to create a historical district, with walking tours," Von Strauss said.
From the response Wolfe has gotten from business owners in the area and other merchants around town who'd like to relocate to Main Street, he said he feels confident that the redevelopment project will finally get off the ground this year.
"Once Sawmill Crossing gets on line, I think that will be just the impetus to make it happen," he said.
Wolfe, one of Payson's newly elected town councilmembers, is available to give presentations to any local groups interested in the redevelopment project. He can be reached by calling Payson Town Hall, 474-5242, or 474-6115.
Anna Mae Deming
Dick Wolfe - Chairman
Vern Stiffler - outgoing mayor
Ray Schum - incoming mayor
Jack Monschein - outgoing councilmember
Rich Underkofler - Town Manager
Jason Phillimore - Development Planner
Sharesse Von Strauss - Main Street Coordinator
Robert Gould - Community Development Director