Genealogical Society Opts For Bigger Bonita Street Site

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Just when you thought the Northern Gila County Genealogical Society was locked into a location for its new research library, the organization has opted for a larger site.

Pending approval of the project by the Payson Planning and Zoning Commission and a successful fund-raising campaign, the society's permanent home will now be located on the western portion of a site currently known as 304 E. Bonita. The eastern portion of the property, which is located just west of Goodnow Road, is occupied by the home of society past-president Sue Owens and husband Robert.

"The Owenses decided to sell part of their property to us so we could have a site that is three times larger than the one we originally selected," Alice Kenmore, society vice president, said. The earlier site, located on the southwest corner of Colcord Road and Bonita Drive, will now be sold.

"There were parking problems with that lot, and we were going to have to use 10 parking spots at the First Southern Baptist Church across the street," Kenmore said. "We hope to finish cleaning (the first lot) up and sell it for a profit."

Once the Owenses' property is divided, the new site will be 100 feet by 167 feet. The previous lot was 60 feet by 90 feet.

The society plans to construct a new 1,536-square-foot building on the site that would house both its research library and administrative offices.

To raise money for the project, the society has launched a fund-raising campaign that includes newspaper ads, personalized letters to friends of society members, and a buy-a-brick program that allows donors to purchase custom-engraved bricks or pavers that will either be part of a walkway into the library or be incorporated into the new building's cornerstone. The society, which hopes to raise $150,000 through the campaign, has so far received donations of about $16,000.

The organization moved into temporary quarters in rooms 104 and 106 of the west wing of Payson Care Center last July. Because of space limitations at that location, over 50 percent of its materials remain in storage.

To date, the society has entered into escrow on the new site. It is also being surveyed, and required maps are being developed so an application for a minor land division can be submitted to planning and zoning.

The group is also in the process of applying for a conditional use permit, necessary because the site is currently zoned R-3. The Planning and Zoning Commission has scheduled a public hearing on the matter for 4 p.m., Monday, July 2.

Pursuant to that hearing, 41 neighbors and nearby property owners were invited to a meeting last Friday to discuss the society's plans for the site. "Nobody showed up to complain," said Hoyt Kenmore, chairman of the society's Ways and Means Committee.

Meanwhile it's business as usual at the Payson Care Center site. The free research library is currently open to the public from 9 a.m. to noon Thursdays through Saturdays.

For more information or to make a contribution to the fund-raising campaign, call the society at 474-2139. Checks should be made out to NGCGS, Inc. Building Fund and mailed to P.O. Box 952, Payson, AZ 85547.

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