Payson's new Main Street Project Manager plans to use her experience to get off to a fast start when she assumes her duties Sept. 29.
As a member of the Oceanside, Calif. city council for eight years, 57-year-old Carol McCauley served as the council's liaison to that town's Main Street program.
"We're a Main Street city in Oceanside," McCauley said. "California has the same (Main Street) program (as Arizona) and I worked very closely with the downtown business association that eventually melded into the Main Street program."
McCauley, who also served as president of the Oceanside Chamber of Commerce, believes Payson's Main Street is in the early stages of the process Oceanside's program experienced.
Oceanside is the "most northwestern city in San Diego County," about midway between San Diego and Los Angeles.
"Payson is a kind of microcosm of what we've gone through...," she said. "Oceanside is 1950s, with a wide street and an eclectic mix of businesses very much like the ones you have on Main Street, and we've had to work very hard to make it pedestrian-friendly."
According to McCauley, a relatively wide street like Payson's Main Street is a mixed blessing. While it facilitates the flow of traffic, it doesn't create a "village" feeling.
"You really want that street to be pedestrian-friendly, and it's pretty wide to be pedestrian-friendly," she said. "We want to get to the point of putting boardwalks through there."
McCauley also wants to see more of the types of businesses that draw people to Main Street.
"Although you never want to discourage any business from being in your city, you want to start focusing on the types of businesses you want to go into there," she said. "Those types of businesses are antique shops, coffee shops, cafes, restaurants."
Fortunately, a better mix of businesses won't have to come at the expense of existing businesses.
"One thing I found to be kind of exciting is that there is a lot of room for infill," she said. "There's a lot of openness in there so you can bring in the types of businesses that you would want to relocate there."
McCauley's vision of Payson's Main Street leans heavily on the area's western heritage.
"It's a cowboy town, so why not focus on going back and re-creating that," she said. "You can tell driving down the street that was the intent and that Karen (Greenspoon, former Main Street manager) was already accomplishing that in some of the buildings where they had done the facade work."
McCauley said the Ox Bow Saloon and some of the other buildings in its immediate vicinity capture the ambience she's talking about.
"I think that little block where the Ox Bow is, is a perfect example of what you'd like to carry through that whole street," she said.
McCauley also is aware of the criticism leveled at the program by a few residents.
"People who are anti-anything are usually the most vocal," she said. "People who support whatever is happening are usually your silent majority. I'm a very optimistic, upbeat person, and you can't let people like that drive you out."
The bottom line for McCauley is to boost tourism through the Main Street program.
"They're clean dollars," she said. "People come in and spend and they go home."
But part of the process is to make sure Main Street is also attractive to residents.
"Sometimes you are your own worst enemy, and for a community to buy into a project like the Main Street project they have to be exposed to it themselves," she said. "Then they'll turn around and sell it to the outside world."
McCauley hasn't yet talked to Greenspoon, but hopes to soon. She was complimentary of the progress achieved during Greenspoon's tenure of two-plus years.
"You have to stay focused, and I think Karen did a great job," she said.
McCauley and her retired husband discovered Payson when making the circuit between friends in the Valley and in Flagstaff.
"We've always been in love with the area, and I think Arizona is an incredible state anyway," she said. "I have an affinity for the West, and it excites me to get involved with something that will hopefully take us back in time -- that will give people a place to go where they can experience it."
Town Community Development Director Bob Gould believes McCauley will do just that.
"She'll be a positive addition to the team," he said. "Carol has an aggressive attitude and I think she'll get the job done for us. She has a positive attitude where even negative criticisms are something worth listening to. Her record with Oceanside seems to support that."