While The Door Stop may still end up relocating to a site south of Payson Municipal Airport, a location in Pine also is under serious consideration by James Hill, owner of the cabinet door manufacturing company in Chandler.
The Pine site, a six-acre parcel at Bradshaw Drive and Highway 87, has at least one problem in common with the airport property a fire code requirement regarding water flow on the property.
"I'm currently going over the books on building and fire codes," Hill said, "and the uniform fire code spells out very clearly that there has to be 300,000 gallons of water available for a structure the size we're going to be building."
If that much water is available, the restriction should not be a problem, Hill said. "But I wonder if this isn't one reason why the Rim country hasn't seen much industry move in recently."
Payson Town Manager Rich Underkofler thinks the water issue will be a bigger problem at the Pine site than at the airport site.
"Quite honestly, The Door Stop is not a big water user, and we have 16-inch water mains at our site," Underkofler said. "Having the necessary water supply at our site should not be an issue."
Payson Fire Chief John Ross agreed.
"The 1997 uniform fire code has been adopted here, and structures have to meet the fire flow requirements," he said. "Because Payson is well hydranted, fire flow is available if he sprinklers his building. Since, as I understand it, they do not have the hydrant system in Pine, he would have to have on-site storage."
But even if the Payson site is better from a water standpoint, there is another complication: negotiations to finalize the 30-year lease/purchase option that the company and the town tentatively agreed to have bogged down. "We sent our latest version of the contract to them about three weeks ago, Town Attorney Sam Streichman said, "and we have heard nothing from (Hill) or his attorneys with any suggested changes."
Hill said he had requested a simplified version of the contract, and that the document he received only reduced the size of the document by about 10 percent.
"I went over the thing, and I guess I was a little naive in my hope that it could be shortened," he said.
But while Hill said The Door Stop is still "in negotiation" with the town, Streichman isn't sure. "It was my understanding that he did not want to negotiate with us at this time," the town attorney said.
Meanwhile, Hill is talking to county officials about assistance with the Bradshaw Drive site. "The principles own some property up there, where they plan to build a home, and they're now considering having the factory closer to where they live," Gila County Administrator Steve Besich said. "What the county may do is work with ADOT on some deceleration lanes on Bradshaw Drive. We didn't realize until we got up there with (ADOT) how fast traffic is going through there."
Both Besich and Hill downplayed the county's assistance. "We have a maintenance facility up there, so this is more of a safety issue than it is something we're doing for The Door Stop," Besich said.
"Whether they do those lanes or not isn't going to affect our decision," Hill said. "I don't care if they do them now or later."
But Besich did admit the county is spending some money for "preliminary design and cost estimates on what it would take to improve that intersection."
Hill said he needs to make a decision soon because he, too, is at a point where he has to start putting out considerable sums of money.
"I have quotes on my desk for $50,000 for architectural fees and $9,000 for code consultation fees," he said. "Before I put out that kind of money, I need to have a better feel for when things can come to completion."
He said several other locations are still under consideration, including one in Star Valley. "And we are also thinking about staying in Chandler," he said. "They're making it very attractive for us to stay here. Chandler has plenty of water."
Hill thinks part of the problem with the Town of Payson is a protracted debate over growth that threatens to bring the town council to a standstill.
"The bottom line is that the town has to decide which direction it wants to go," he said. "Businesses (relocating) to Payson find themselves caught in the crossfire between local growth and no-growth groups and often simply decide that relocating into unresolved controversy is not good business."