American Gulch Proposal Called A ‘Win-Win' Idea

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The proposed American Gulch Plan -- a 200-foot-wide channel running from Sawmill Crossing to Green Valley Park -- would mean much more to the town than just a way to control flooding in the area.

"It would really create a people place," Green Valley Redevelopment Committee Chairperson Blair Meggitt told a combined meeting of the Payson Town Council and Planning & Zoning Commission last week.

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The proposed American Gulch Plan features a V-shaped channel for storm runoff that incorporates a pedestrian walkway and bicycle path. The channel would run from Green Valley Park to Sawmill Crossing.

"We want to see shops, restaurants, artisan's galleries, night life, park activities, cycling, walking, street parties," Meggitt said. "It's to extend that pride that we have with Green Valley Park all the way to Sawmill Crossing."

But while the plan can be considered a "multi-objective project," Andy Romance of Highline Engineering pointed out that its "backbone is the drainage."

The proposed channel would use just 12 acres from the 38-acre floodplain, effectively freeing 26 acres for new development. The American Gulch area runs parallel to Main Street on the south side, with a southern boundary of Aero Drive.

A cross-section of the proposed channel depicts an irregular V shape with a smaller channel in the center that would accommodate storms like the one that hit the Rim country last week.

A pedestrian walkway and bicycle path with sloped sides ending at ground level are located on either side of this smaller channel.

In the event of a 100-year storm, the walkways would be incorporated into a larger channel to accommodate heavy runoff.

Total cost of the project, including necessary land acquisition and channel construction is estimated at $4.8 million. Because of its price tag, the Green Valley Redevelopment Committee proposed a feasibility study that would assess how much of that cost the town could realistically expect to recoup.

"I think it's a great plan," Community Development Director Bob Gould said at the meeting.

"We just look at this as the impetus to get a lot more activity in the area -- to get a lot more development accomplished in the area.

"But I'm to the point right now where I could not recommend it unless there was some kind of a payback on that $4.8 million investment or some kind of a shared cost."

Gould said he would prepare a request for the council to fund the feasibility study, expected to cost about $50,000. Among other things, it would include pre- and post-appraisals of the affected properties.

"That's what this study will tell us: No. 1, what kind of revenues will we generate," he said. "It will also give us enough tools to work with the individual property owners out there so we can say, ‘Hey guys, we're going to be putting this channel out here and here's the value of your property now. This is going to be the value afterwards. Let's see what we can work out to make this a win-win situation for both the town and you.'"

The detailed presentation to the council and commission included several pictures of the flooding that occurred in the area from last week's storm.

"This is maybe a two-year storm we've been dealing with," Romance said. "We can only imagine what a 100-year event would inundate."

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