After a protracted debate, the Payson Town Council voted unanimously to move ahead with a feasibility study and needs assessment for a community recreation center at its regular meeting Thursday.
The 10 residents who addressed the council during the public hearing portion of the debate were equally divided over the need for such a facility, with several emphasizing the lack of supervised activities for youth.
Speaking in opposition of the project, Payson resident Ruby Finney said the town should get its priorities straight before launching into the community center project.
"Now we need another $105,000 for a study," she said. "It seems to me that if we could get a little bit of the money that you spend on studies, we could get the tennis courts fixed and have a little money for the covers for the rodeo grounds."
Among those endorsing the project was John Wilson, treasurer of Friends of the Library, the volunteer group that raised money for the new library currently under construction. Wilson suggested citizen involvement and participation be an integral part of the community center project.
"I am proposing we form a Friends of Parks and Recreation, similar to what we did for the library," he said. "We're in the process of organizing that now, so I urge you very strongly to get this thing going and get it going now so that when we really show we have a need for it, we're ready for it and we have the plans and the facts and the background to support it."
Prior to a vote, council member Hoby Herron said approval at this stage would not actually commit funds for the study. "We're simply going out to ask companies to quote a price to do a feasibility study," he said.
The council also voted unanimously to authorize the planning and zoning commission to consider zoning changes that would encourage development of home-based business especially those providing services over the Internet. In making the motion, Councilmember Ken Murphy said the proposed changes would be brought back to the council, and public hearings would be held before their enactment.
In other action, the council held first public hearings on town code revisions relating to rules and regulations for the Payson Event Center and restrictions on amplification equipment in Green Valley Park.