‘Right School, Wrong Place,' Says Group Of Residents

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A group of Payson residents calling themselves Right School, Wrong Place wants the planned Community Christian School moved from its proposed location in their neighborhood to what they deem a more "suitable location."

The group is circulating a petition and has provided the Roundup with their objections as well as reasons why the school's planned location at 500 Mud Springs Rd., north of Frontier Elementary is, in their view, both an unsafe and inappropriate location.

"The Planning and Zoning Commission's 4-3 vote approving this project means that 43 percent of the commission opposed it," group founder Stephanie Ryder said. "We think that when the town council and Payson residents understand what's about to happen, they will not allow the school to be built on this small, secluded residential site."

The school's proposed location is in an area that has a history of traffic congestion. Improving the street as well as creating an access to Highway 260 is one of the capital improvement projects that will be voted on in the September election.

"We're depending on the bond election in September to provide funds to upgrade roads and continue Mud Springs through to Highway 260," area resident Sarah Nelson said. "But if these bond issues don't pass ... a second school will overload and ultimately choke off the entire neighborhood with cars, school buses, children on bicycles and pedestrians. Plus, we must consider emergency access by fire engines, ambulances and police vehicles, especially since hundreds of children would be at risk."

Town Engineer LaRon Garrett responded to the question of a possible bond failure during the June 9 planning and zoning meeting.

"The project will get done, regardless," Garret said. "It's at the top of the priorities list. It's just a matter of getting the money."

Garrett could not speculate on where the money would come from for the Mud Springs improvement, nor how long it might take to get it.

Some members of Right School, Wrong Place own property adjacent to the school and have concerns about the impact of school children on their quiet neighborhood.

Ryan Barbieri's family has owned property adjacent to the proposed school for more than 50 years.

"I fear that a much-amplified noise level along with mischievous behavior by students will be unbearable," Barbieri said. "In addition, the most substantial concern I have is the much-increased possibility of children trespassing onto my property and becoming injured. This would further increase my liability."

"Building a single-family home on this property is reasonable," Nelson said. "But building a 32,000-square-foot metal building the size of an airplane hangar -- and then adding a parking lot for 36 cars and a playground -- is not workable on this site. We hope that when the town council has all the facts, they will see that this is not a safe or logical place for a new, fast growing school."

The Community Christian School is currently renting space in the Assembly of God Church. They expect to have about 75 full-time students but have the potential to accept up to 225 students.

"We certainly endorse the good works that the Payson Christian School does for students, families and the community," Nelson said. "But building the school on this property is not a sound decision for many reasons, including serious safety concerns."

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