Officials Invite Public To 'Play In The Street'

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It's not historic, but it is history in the making.

East Main Street, a brand new extension of historic Main Street from the Beeline Highway to Payson Regional Medical Center, will be officially christened from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday morning at a "Come Play in the Street Festival."

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Organizers of the "Come Play in the Street Festival" practice for the watermelon-eating competition that is part of the festivities. They include developer Jon Cheney, Marc Kaplan of the Mazatzal Casino, hospital CEO Chris Wolf and Laura Pierce from the Rim Country Regional Chamber of Commerce.

The new section of Main Street will be blocked off for three hours so attendees can frolic on bicycles, skateboards and in-line skates, in baby strollers, wheelchairs and walkers, or any other non-motorized means of conveyance.

Food booths, musical entertainment and a variety of old-fashioned contests will be located along the entire three-block stretch.

Among the food vendors is Mad Dawg's and Mel's, the restaurant that recently moved to the location previously operated as the Mogollon Grille, will offer its gourmet hot dogs. The Marble Slab Creamery from Sawmill Crossing will be on hand with its famous ice cream. Competitions include a watermelon-eating contest, tricycle race and a dunk tank featuring local politicians and celebrities.

Bob Ware, executive director of the Rim Country Regional Chamber of Commerce, urged people to stop by.

"Bring your red wagon. Bring your bicycle, your in-line skates, your roller blades," he said. "Bring the kids and the strollers and come and have some fun for three hours. This is our Phoenix-style freeway grand opening."

The "Come Play in the Street Festival," which is co-sponsored by Mazatzal Casino, begins with a 9 a.m. ribbon-cutting ceremony. For more information, call the chamber at 474-4515. "This thing has no redeeming value whatsoever," Ware said. "It's just our little party for our little selves because our little street is open. But for this town, it's a big street."

Medical campus

Two new medical office buildings, which will operate under the name Payson Medical Complex, are nearing completion on the new roadway, and Payson Regional Medical Center has undergone an extensive renovation that will make East Main Street the primary access road to the hospital.

The new medical buildings -- one 12,000- and one 15,000-square-feet -- are located on a two-acre parcel in the 200 block near the end of the East Main Street extension. Their proximity to the medical center, which recently completed a $4.5 million addition that includes two new wings, creates a medical plaza with a wide variety of medical services available in one area.

Variety of tenants

Developer Jon Cheney said there will be general practitioners, an orthopedic surgeon, and physical therapy and imaging from the hospital. Some practices should be open by Aug. 1.

Cheney envisions an eventual medical campus occupying virtually all the property between PRMC and Highway 87.

"The hospital is leasing the majority of the space in these first two buildings," he said. "They have some doctors in temporary units on hospital property who really need better facilities. But down the road, when the growth warrants it, I'd like to add additional buildings."

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