Main Street has taken major strides in the past 15 months, a period that coincides with Karen Greenspoon's tenure as project manager.
Greenspoon assumed her duties Jan. 22, 2001, after being selected from among 22 applicants. She previously served as manager of Show Low's Main Street program.
Besides personally visiting every business owner on Main Street, an early step for Greenspoon was to establish a Main Street office. A location was chosen at 501 W. Main Street, and, with the aid of a matching grant, a new computer system was installed.
Greenspoon also established a board of directors early in her tenure. Members include president John Landino of Success Dynamics, secretary-treasurer Sue McIntyre of Mogollon Grille, Libby Leggett of Palmer Architects, Minette Richardson of Cuts & Stuf, Jack Etter of Main Street Paint, Larry Young of Young and Burton Construction, Gordon Whiting of Kaibab Industries, and Dr. Patti Blackmore of Pine Country Animal Clinic.
In June, a state resource team gave residents a preview of how Main Street will one day look. At a presentation at the Mogollon Grille, the team concluded four days of design and marketing research by unveiling its long-awaited "streetscape" design boards to the public.
The seven-member team based their redevelopment concepts in part on a series of 30 interviews with members of the town council, community leaders and hand-picked Payson residents. The team was made up of representatives from the Department of Commerce, Valley architects and streetscape specialists, and California business consultants.
"A diverse cross section of Payson residents were chosen from every age group, business background and economic group for the interview process," Greenspoon said.
The sketches, which Greenspoon said are "what we will base all of our future plans and development on," feature three in-ground brick roundabouts, two that serve as gateways at either end of Main Street, and one at the "main intersection" of Main Street and McLane.
"They're more of a decorative feature than anything," Greenspoon said, "a kind of focal point where we could put a statue or something like that."
The streetscape renderings also feature a "linear park" that runs the entire length of Main Street from Green Valley Park to Highway 87.
"We're looking at whether water retention or a channel would be feasible, but regardless of whether we have a water feature, the state resource team recommends pedestrian paths and bike paths through it.
"The town is in the process of trying to acquire the land."
Primary pedestrian zones, which run down either side of Main Street, are shown in the streetscape renderings with native stone retaining walls that double as seats, decomposed granite parkways, Arizona sandstone-colored concrete sidewalks, additional honeylocust trees and park benches. The existing acorn streetlights would remain.
Also identified on the streetscape renderings are potential Main Street public parking areas, and a site near the northwest corner of Sawmill Crossing that affords an opportunity for an outdoor gathering space perhaps an amphitheater, plaza and information directory.
The state resource team recommended that parking be moved around behind buildings to replace the adjacent store-front parking that currently is predominant on Main Street. Many of the current parking areas could be turned into patios and courtyards.
"Most of the people the team interviewed said they wanted to keep Main Street as close to the original as possible," Greenspoon said. "What a lot of people don't realize is that the facades that some of the existing buildings have were added much later."
Greenspoon said that much of the way the Old West was portrayed in cowboy movies is inaccurate.
"Indigenous building materials were used, and in this area there was a lot of rock and block," she said.
Regardless, it is ultimately up to the property and business owners to decide how and to what extent they will implement the recommendations of the state resource team.
Other significant developments over the past 15 months on Main Street include:
With the removal of three boxcars that had been parked there for the last half century or so, a 5,434-square-foot parcel of land at the northwest corner of Main Street and McLane Road, has been cleared for conversion into a historic park.
The site was once occupied by Boardman's General Store, the first wood structure in town, and home of its official clock. Town officials envision "a little informational park," Greenspoon said.
Construction is in progress on a three-story log structure that will house a gun shop on the site of the old Winchester Saloon. Owners Mike and Marta Pollick plan to move their gunsmith business to Payson from St. Johns.
The Pollicks have retained Karik Construction Company, a local builder of log structures, to design and build their building and two others on adjoining lots within the site.
"The parcel is actually subdivided into three lots," said Karyn Nelsen, co-owner along with husband Rick of Karik Construction.
"The Pollicks will build on the lot next to the Ox Bow and will sell the other two," she said. The plan is for Karik Construction to build complementary log structures on those two lots to house retail establishments.
Nine Main Street businesses received $10,000 grants for facade, landscape and streetscape improvements.
"This is the beginning of the new face of Main Street," Greenspoon said.
Businesses awarded the grants are Byrne Auto, Payson Auto Clinic, the old Zane Grey Museum building, Payson Sports Equipment, Colorado Communications (the old school bus barn), Sunrise Chiropractic, Cuts & Stuf, Highline Engineering and Rustix Furnishings.
They were selected from 14 applicants by a design review committee that included Community Development Director Bob Gould and two members each from the Green Valley Redevelopment Committee, Historic Preservation Committee and Main Street Board of Directors.
Several other new projects contributing to the rapidly changing face of Main Street, all health care-related, include Risser-Thomas Eye Clinic in the 1930s-vintage house last occupied by The Oaks Restaurant, Dr. Patti Blackmore's Pine Country Animal Clinic on a vacant site between Main Street Paint and Lincoln Garage Door, and High Desert Dentistry, which is building a new facility across the street from its current location at 404 W. Main Street.
The year concluded with the launching of a new Rim country holiday tradition on Main Street "Christmas in Payson, a Traditional Hometown Celebration." The event included an electric light parade down Main Street and culminated in Santa's arrival, caroling and a tree lighting ceremony at Green Valley Park.
Most recently, the Ox Bow Inn was declared eligible for the National Register of Historic Places, the nation's official list of properties considered worthy of preservation. If accepted, the Ox Bow will join such notable state structures as the San Javier del Bac mission near Tucson and the Goodfellow Lodge at Tonto Natural Bridge, the only area building on the list.
"This is just the beginning of a long and involved process," Greenspoon said. "But a listing on the register affords a certain prestige that enhances the property's value and raises community awareness and pride."
The Ox Bow was recently purchased by a new owner who is considering converting it to a dinner theater.