Payson Should Become A Town With An Advantage

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by Max C. Richards, Young

In response to the May 1 commentary by Philip Orme Miller titled "Payson should become a town with a vintage," I was amused at the Floridian's gall in attempting to tell Arizonans how we should manage our future. He began by extolling the virtues of the single-lane Beeline Highway of 35 years ago, which he described as a "moving and magical experience." Correct me if I'm wrong, but most of us remember that road as a "cotton pickin'" nightmare.

But, Mr. Miller wasn't content to just simply complain that we now have a modern highway to safely travel to the medical, cultural and political capital of our state. No, his litany of complaints went on to condemn Payson for wanting growth, more visitors and an economic boom. In his words, Payson's "town leaders should have long ago stopped the 'four-laneing' of the Beeline and instituted Draconian architectural controls so that virtually every building in town, commercial and residential, would be built in an Old West style of wood and stone."

Of course, this "conservationist" fails to tell us exactly which forest we should have cut down to get all that wood, or where we should have scarred the face of the environment to get all of that stone.

In an effort to validate his complainer's credentials, Mr. Miller says: "I'm 56 years of age and was born and raised in Miami when it was a paradise. Today it is massively larger but most assuredly not better."

Well, Mr. Miller, I'm 63 years of age and was raised in Arizona. My "Miami," the one six miles from Globe, is not larger. It hasn't grown. In fact, it has shrunk and it is desperately trying to find some way just to survive. It would be delighted to have an influx of fast food restaurants, shopping centers, modern service stations and traffic congestion.

Mr. Miller haughtily asks us, "Are you building a town with a vintage to improve with age?" Actually, the proper question should be "Is Payson building a town with advantage so that it can improve with age?" A town where young people don't have to leave in order to find good employment. A town where the school system can afford the teachers and equipment to prepare students for the modern world of technology. A town that can provide first-rate medical and support services for the elderly. A town that doesn't have the problems of urban aging decay that an "environmentalist from Florida" would be happier to see covered. Finally, Miller had the gall to ask us, "What are we conserving the country for more Wal-Marts?" Well, to put it in cowboy language Damn straight! We need stores like Wal-Mart, where we can get reasonable prices, merchandise choices and community involvement.

In closing, I can only offer this one piece of solace to Mr. Miller. There are still rutted dirt roads with hairpin turns and steep drop-offs that "really focus your attention." If he's truly still needing such, he can take the road to Young or the Chamberlain Trail to Haigler Creek!

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