In a recent letter to the editor, a reader said his "litmus test" for mayoral and council candidates is their opposition to the town's participation in the revitalization of Main Street. "I will not vote for any candidate who wants to spend more money on this project," he wrote.
While we respect and encourage the opinions of our readers, in this case we take exception. Main Street is a concept that not only should happen, but must happen for two very important reasons.
1. As the newly refurbished Beeline Highway becomes better known to Valley residents, the number who choose the Rim country for their weekend getaways will only grow. Given this reality, we need to give them a place to go that allows us to recoup some of the money we lose from the strain they put on our resources and to enhance a very vital segment of our local economy: tourism. A rejuvenated Main Street, bookended by Green Valley Park and Sawmill Crossing, offers the best opportunity to do that.
2. Our community is sorely in need of a focal point a place where we can come together, take visitors and point to with pride. What are the current options? The Wal-Mart Supercenter? The Beeline's back-to-back fast food joints? The Swiss Village parking lot at Christmastime?
If you attended the electric light parade and tree lighting event on Main Street in December, you caught a glimpse and, yes, a glimmer of what it can become.
We believe Main Street, with its ties to our heritage, is far and away the only place in Payson that can provide that intangible sense of place our community needs.
It's OK to argue the specifics of how we revitalize Main Street. It's OK to debate what percentage should be accomplished with tax money versus private investment. It's OK to vote for mayoral and council candidates based on their specific plans and programs for Main Street revitalization.
But in our view, voting for candidates opposed to Main Street is not an option. On the contrary, we believe the candidates who deserve our support are those who are visionary enough to realize that Main Street is mandatory.
(Editor's note: The three candidates for mayor state their positions on Main Street beginning on page 7A in this issue.)