Voters To Consider New Fields, Covered Bleachers

Part 3 of 4

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The Payson Parks and Recreation Department's two capital improvement projects comprise the third bond issue on the ballot.

If voters approve the initiative, the $1.2 million will put synthetic turf on two ballfields at Rumsey Park and a roof structure over the Payson Event Center.

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Baking in the scorching sun at the Payson Event Center has become part of the experience of Rim country's festivals and events. If the bond passes, a roof will cover the arena.

Splendor in the grass

Laying the synthetic turf on the ballfields, although pricey, is cost-effective, according to Parks and Recreation Director Bill Schwind.

"The first and foremost benefit is the water conservation," Schwind said. "We can provide quality athletic fields without the use of potable or treated wastewater to irrigate."

He said millions of gallons of water have been used to keep the ballfields green.

"We estimate that the first synthetic field we put in saved close to two million gallons of water during the season," Schwind said.

The turf also requires a minimal amount of maintenance and according to the manufacturers, lasts 40 years.

Parks and Recreation is contributing $200,000 to the project from the Park Development Fund.

The two additional fields will be joined to make an additional soccer field as well, he said, which will shorten the waiting list for fields.

"There's an extremely high demand on the fields," Schwind said. "Our programs and participants increase every year. Through the summertime and fall, they are used every day."

Nearly 30 softball teams use the fields during the evening and they also serve as auxiliary fields for the high school.

Bruce Whiting -- chairman of the Capital Improvement Projects committee, the group that selected the projects included in the bond initiatives -- agreed that town ballfields are in high demand.

"We need more ballfields," Whiting said. "We will also be able to attract tournaments. Teams will come to town, play ball here and spend their money here."

Rumsey Park remains a very popular place for Payson residents, Schwind said.

"If the bond issue passes, it would go a long way in assisting us with the completion of the Rumsey Park Master Plan," he said. "We've been chipping away at it over the last 10 years, and this would really help us."

Roofing the arena

The Payson Event Center, constructed three years ago at a cost of $1.1 million, continues to be underused, Schwind said. The major reason for that is spectator discomfort, which may be remedied with a $600,000 roof structure.

When Schwind proposed the project to the Committee on Capital Improvement Projects, he referred to the event center as a dust bowl. Committee members nodded in agreement with the blunt depiction.

"It's brutal out there," Schwind said, referring to the flying dust and searing metal bleachers.

"It's pretty much barren out there -- dusty, no shade, limited vegetation. It's a bleak environment.

"When you are trying to do festivals or shows, it's cumbersome for the event promoter."

Shade would make all the difference, he said.

"We've found out that there are a lot of groups that want to come here and put on events, but they won't because they are concerned that it will get rained out," Whiting said.

The roof structure proposal by Bunger Steel, would cover the entire arena, bleacher seating, bucking chutes and stock pens. It would be insulated with a polypropylene liner with fiberglass that prevents heat radiation, reduces rain noise and improves acoustics. The roof structure would include skylights for natural lighting.

"It would open up a venue for all kinds of opportunities -- dog shows, boat shows, car shows, all the things that don't fare well in the blistering heat," Schwind said. "And with a roof, we could pretty much do things year-round."

"Basically, we built a nice house and forgot to put a roof on it," Bob Ware, executive director of the Rim Country Regional Chamber of Commerce, said. "Once we put a roof on it, we will be able to bring a lot more business to town."

The town-owned event center operates with a cost recovery philosophy, Schwind said.

According to committee member Judy Miller, not only does the town get money from the tickets sold, but visitors stay in motels, go out to restaurants and shop in Payson.

Members of the CIP committee viewed both parks and recreational projects as revenue-producing in addition to enhancing recreation facilities in town.

The bond, if approved, would be paid out of sales tax, which should cost the average family about $1 a month, officials said.

The Committee to Improve Payson, comprised of former Capital Improvements Committee members, will hold a second forum on the bond issues at 6 p.m., Aug. 20 at the high school auditorium.

For more information or questions about the bond initiatives, call Whiting at (928) 970-7777.

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