Council Looks At Dog Park, Door Stop

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Members of the PAWS in the Park will find out Thursday if they've been barking up the wrong tree in their attempt to add an off-leash dog park to the town's offerings.

The PAWS group is seeking 1.5 acres of land at Rumsey Park for the dog facility. If approved, PAWS will handle fencing the property, and will help the town maintain the park.

The issue was discussed by the Payson Parks and Recreation Advisory Board last Thursday and was approved 4 to 1, with a recommendation to pay a part-time employee up to 20 hours a week to help maintain the park.

The issue is at the top of the Town Council's agenda for its Thursday meeting, beginning at 6 p.m. at Town Hall.

Door Stop deal

A decision may finally be reached in the town's negotiations with The Door Stop, with the Payson Town Council poised to say yea or nay to the company's latest and, presumably, last offer.

As presented at last Thursday's special budget meeting, Jim Hill, owner of the cabinet door manufacturing company that wants to move here from Chandler, is offering to buy the property a five-acre site just south of Payson Municipal Airport outright, for $367,000 rather than accept a 30-year lease-purchase agreement loaded with economic incentives. The council voted 6-1 at the budget meeting to put the item on Thursday's agenda, in part, according to Town Manager Rich Underkofler, so interested parties would have time to study the proposed contract and comment on it.

Among the parties likely to be interested is the Citizens Awareness Committee, the local political watchdog group.

Payson Mayor Ray Schum said he objected to CAC's charge that the council is not exercising due diligence in researching The Door Stop.

"It's a privately owned company, so Dunn & Bradstreet has nothing on them, and if the bank is willing to give him a $1.5 million loan, that's good enough for me," the mayor said.

While Schum said he is 100 percent in favor of the agreement, councilmember Hoby Herron explained his lone dissenting vote at last Thursday's meeting.

"The big problem I had with it is that we were handed a yellow sheet on it right before the executive session," Herron said. "I didn't have time to study it and neither did anybody else. The changes weren't even marked. The people who put me in office feel I should read everything. It just boggles my mind how the council can do business this way."

Herron said he also objected on the grounds that the agreement appeared to protect Hill more than the town.

"The way I read the contract, it appears to me it favors The Door Stop more than the taxpayers," he said.

According to the terms of the contract under consideration, Hill would pay $225,000 cash by close of escrow. A promissory note for $142,485 would cover the balance of the purchase price.

But he has to have an answer at Thursday's meeting or, he said, he will expand his facility in Chandler.

The Door Stop is expected to create up to 75 jobs in the Rim country with wages in the upper $20,000s.

History park

In other action, a historic park at 608 South McLane Road will inch closer to becoming a reality if the council authorizes $50,000 to acquire the site, currently occupied by a metal building and three railroad box cars.

The town will apply for a grant from Arizona State Parks Heritage Funds to build the park in 2002, but is attempting to acquire the land now, so it won't be a "missed opportunity," according to town Grants Coordinator Cathy Melvin.

"We can still get 50 percent of the land cost back," Melvin said. An issue that has delayed the grant request is a requirement that recreational facilities be included, while the town sees it primarily as a "little informational park," she said.

Finally, the council will consider a request for a special event liquor license for a post rodeo parade cookout at Rumsey Park Ramada #5 from 10:30 to 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 18. Proceeds from the event go to the Zane Grey Shrine Club.

The Payson Town Council meets in its chambers at Town Hall, 303 N. Beeline Highway.

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