Group Looks

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Sawmill Crossing and the lakes at Green Valley Park were on a list of strengths, while fear and a lack of vision were identified as threats to the Main Street Program by participants in a recent strategic planning seminar.

"It's important that the people who are in positions of leadership throughout the community be actively involved in identifying the issues, both positive and negative, that will impact not only the success, but also the final shape that Main Street will assume," said Main Street Manager Karen Greenspoon.

The all-day training session, attended by some 40 board members, town managers, council members and council candidates, was facilitated by Kent Burnes, a nationally known speaker who works with most of the Main Street programs across the United States. Now based in Grass Valley, Calif., Burnes previously served as Flagstaff's Main Street manager.

Participants were asked to provide insights and input into the challenges and opportunities facing Payson's Main Street Program according to the "SWOT" principles. The acronym stands for "Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats."

Other threats identified by participants included a lack of funding, opposition by a vocal minority, apathetic or threatened business and property owners, the flood plain that runs roughly parallel to and south of Main Street, vacancies, a current lack of balance in retail offerings and general economic conditions.

Under weaknesses, participants listed such items as apathy, a lack of volunteers, blight in the area, visibility, zoning issues, and inadequate funding.

On the positive side, other strengths identified by the group included the strong leadership of the Main Street manager and other town officials, state and national assistance, the presence of historic structures like the Ox Bow Saloon on Main Street, easy access off Highway 87, available land and empty buildings.

Opportunities the group identified included more community involvement, solving the floodplain problem, interest by outside developers and branding the area and the program.

Finally, attendees were asked to contribute words and phrases that, taken together, could comprise a vision for Main Street. In addition to words like interesting, attractive, exciting, inviting, artistic and cultural, participants envisioned a Main Street that would be clean and well maintained, be safe and family oriented, have an influence on surrounding areas, be a destination and attract return visitors, and reflect the community's values and heritage.

"What we are trying to do is unite community leaders behind a vision of what Main Street can one day become," Greenspoon said.

Successful rural Main Street programs are often based on four pillars design, promotion, economic restructuring and organization. Following that format, the Payson program has established committees to address each:

Design Committee

Larry Young of Young and Burton Construction, a Main Street business, heads this committee. Its purpose is to create an attractive, coordinated and quality image of downtown by capitalizing on its unique assets and heritage.

Economic Restructuring Committee

Responsible for developing a market strategy that will result in an improved retail mix, stronger tax base, increased investor confidence and a stable role for the downtown area as a major component of the town's economy, this committee is chaired by Libby Leggitt of Palmer Architects and includes Sue McIntyre, co-owner of Mogollon Grill, a Main Street business.

Promotion Committee

Led by Minette Richardson, owner of Cuts and Stuf, a Main Street business, and John Landino, president of Success Dynamics, this committees primary responsibility is to market a unified, quality image of the business district as the center of activities, goods and services to retailers, investors and shoppers.

Organization Committee

Charged with the ongoing health of the program's operation through member and volunteer recruitment and operational fund-raising, this committee is chaired by Patti Blackmore, veterinarian and Main Street business owner, and Jack Etter owner of yet another Main Street business, Main Street Paint & Decorating.

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