Proposal For Event Center Operation Lacking, Council Says

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The Payson Town Council turned its back on a recommendation from one of its advisory boards this month.

The Parks and Recreation Advisory Board unanimously recommended the council reject the one proposal received for taking over the Payson Event Center.

"The board's rationale is in agreement with staff analysis citing a lack of financial information, a scheduled capital improvement program, financial terms regarding lease payments and failure to adhere to instructional specifications identified within the requests for proposals," according to the council information packet.

The town staff and advisory board found the proposal lacking. Town Manager Fred Carpenter, on behalf of Parks and Recreation Director Bill Schwind, said, "The proposal was neither responsible or responsive," because so much was unknown.

Rather than reject the proposal outright, the council chose to table the matter. There was a suggestion by Mayor Ken Murphy about having a meeting with the people who made the proposal, H. Wayne Tolliver Jr., H.W. Tolliver Sr., and Ron Nix of RNJ Partnership, Laveen, Ariz. However, the council took no action regarding a meeting.

Murphy said there were some interesting aspects to it that deserved further investigation, and others that could probably be negotiated.

The Tollivers and Nix proposed:

"... an 1880s town be built in a movie set format and enlarged and improved as the town develops with storefronts becoming actual buildings for shops and stores. It is proposed that the town be planned and built in phases with a restaurant/saloon being the first, with specialty shops and stores to follow. The first phase would be preceded by the installation of a boarding area for horses. (With) trail rides and other activities to invite the equestrian enthusiasts. There would be no plans to place a hotel in the area within the first five years.

"The proposed trail rides, horse boarding and scheduled events will benefit the town of Payson. The proposed building of this site will attract tourists and participants. Local workers at the proposed site and the use of local materials in building will also benefit Payson. The possibility of using this facility as a movie set/commercials location would also promote the entire area. Mr. Nix at other locations has done this effectively and successfully. Support industries, catering, wardrobe and extras are a bonus feature.

"It is proposed that a monthly rodeo event be scheduled. Trail rides (would) be available on days open. It is proposed that this facility be open on Friday-Sunday until the town is completed or crowd flow indicates there is enough business to stay open. Special events will be scheduled to include the site being open. Shooting dates for commercials or filming schedules will dictate an alternate schedule. An on-site manager will be available at all times."

The proposal indicated completion in about 18 months.

"Based on similar projects this proposal should gross $50,000-$60,000 the first year. The second year should gross $75,000-$100,000 with income doubling in the third, fourth and fifth year. The long-term projection should be $500,000 per year after the fifth year," according to the RNJ Partnership proposal.

Speaking later about the discussion to meet with the people making the proposal, Murphy said, "It sounds like economic development to me."

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