Genealogical Society To Put Down Roots

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The Northern Gila County Genealogical Society took an important step toward achieving a permanent home Monday when the Payson Planning and Zoning Commission granted the nonprofit corporation a conditional use permit to build a new facility on the southwest corner of Colcord Road and Bonita Drive.

An old, single-family dwelling at that corner has been condemned by the town and will be demolished, clearing the way for a new 1,536-square-foot building that will house the library and society office. A lack of parking for the new library was eliminated with an agreement with the First Southern Baptist Church catercorner from the site. The church will allow the Genealogical Society use of 10 spaces in the southwest portion of its lot.

According to society librarian Lettie Cale, a builder who wants to remain anonymous has promised to build a structure on the site at no cost, and another individual who also wants to remain anonymous has agreed to carry the balance of a loan that the society would pay back within five years.

"We have to pay for furnishing the building, and for the plumbing, heating and cooling," Cale said. "We started a building fund three years ago that has about $15,000 in it so far."

One objection raised by the commission regarding a free-standing sign that might block vision at the busy intersection was mitigated when Cale agreed to attach all signage to the structure. Concerns regarding security lighting were also addressed to the commission's satisfaction.

The society moved into temporary quarters at Payson Care Center last July. Prior to that it was located at 708 N. Ponderosa Street in a building owned by Payson Regional Medical Center.

"We have seen increased traffic since we moved to Payson Care Center," Cale said. "But we moved there with the understanding that it would be temporary, and it's just not big enough for us."

The new facility will allow the library's entire collection to be available to the public.

"Because we're short on space right now," Cale said, "some of our collection has been placed in storage."

While Cale said there is no time table for the completion of the new facility, she emphasized that the library, which occupies rooms 104 and 106 in the west wing of Payson Care Center, is currently open from 9 a.m. to noon Thursdays through Saturdays.

In other action, the commission also approved a conditional use permit for an animal clinic to be located at 702 S. Meadow Street. The Pine Country Animal Clinic would occupy a 575-square-foot existing building owned by Doctors Patti and William Blackmore.

Patti Blackmore, a veterinarian, plans to operate the clinic in the structure which also houses her husband's dental practice. The clinic will be used primarily for performing surgeries, examinations and occasional overnight hospitalization.

Blackmore, who currently operates a mobile veterinary service, said the clinic is intended to be an adjunct facility.

"The bulk of my services for animal care will continue to be from my truck at the client's home," Blackmore said.

A third request for a conditional use permit for a gasoline station at the intersection of Highway 260 and Goodnow Road in the parking lot of the Ponderosa Shopping Center was tabled until the Jan. 29 meeting to allow the town's engineering staff to collect and present additional information regarding traffic flow and congestion in and around the site.

LaRon Garrett, town public works engineer, could not attend the Monday session because of a schedule conflict. In his absence, several commissioners said they doubted the area could stand the additional traffic such a facility would generate.

Joseph Salvatore, a Valley architect and principle in Architekton, the project's developer, argued that the new gasoline station is part of a nationwide cross-marketing strategy by Safeway Corporation and would therefore not generate that much additional traffic.

"My company has designed 2,000 gas stations, and we know what we're doing," Salvatore said.

Traffic patterns at eight such Safeway gasoline facilities already up and running in Arizona indicate that at least one-third of all Safeway grocery customers will also purchase gas on the same shopping trip. Salvatore said that Safeway cardholders will receive a four cent per gallon discount on gasoline purchases.

He also said that Safeway has preliminary plans to expand the grocery store and, in the process, address safety concerns at the intersection of Highway 260 and Granite Dells Road.

In other business, the commission elected its 2001 officers, unanimously choosing Ruth Craig to serve another term as chairman and Robert Flibotte to assume the post of vice chairman.

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