While it may not go down in the annals of Payson Town Council history as one of the bigger issues that body has faced, the matter of what to do about the ducks and geese in Green Valley Park was an interesting study in participatory democracy.
If you weren't at last night's town council meeting, you missed a reasoned presentation by Payson resident Amy von Somogyi the lady who has led the crusade to have the speed limit on Country Club Drive reduced to 15 mph to give the ducks a fighting chance of getting across that street with feathers intact.
Von Somogyi presented the council with a petition containing the names of 270 Rim country residents who support her position. A second petition from Payson Elementary School fifth-grader Christopher Fraga with another 62 names also was presented.
In the end, the council chose to listen instead to a few individuals who argued that the ducks and geese are noisy and may spread diseases. While the council agreed to put up the lowered speed limit signs, Police Chief Gordon Gartner emphasized that they will not be enforced.
And the motion the council passed further instructed town staff to reduce the number of ducks to levels recommended by the Arizona Department of Game and Fish, a decision that will result in the removal and, quite possibly, "eradication" of as many as 31 ducks almost half the Green Valley Park flock.
Even more interesting, the council's decision came immediately following the comments of Pine resident Jim Estess, who moved to the Rim country two years ago from duck country Oregon.
"What I've heard tonight is a lot of information that is not correct based on spending 25 years of my life living next to a wildlife refuge where there are hundreds of thousands of ducks and geese every year," Estess told the council.
"My wife and daughter both walk in the park, and with ducks and geese you don't have snakes, you don't have a lot of insects, you don't have rodents ... And the possibility of ducks spreading diseases is a bunch of (nonsense)."
When it was over, von Somogyi put it best: "I'm just devastated. Basically what I've done is gotten a bunch of ducks killed."
Like we said, it was an interesting study in participatory democracy.