Gulch Plan Could Bring More Life To Main Street


The proposed American Gulch project, a 200-foot-wide channel running from Sawmill Crossing to Green Valley Park, received a boost at an April 8 public hearing when the council agreed to begin the process to rezone about five acres of land in the project area.

The land, owned by John and Jeri Chilson, would be rezoned from residential to commercial so it can be used for the development of office condominiums.

According to Town Manager Fred Carpenter, the developers have agreed that with the zone change, a portion of the land in the American Gulch area would be dedicated to the town to be used as a drainage channel and for flood control.

The American Gulch project has not yet been adopted by the town council, but if the developers dedicate the land to the town as agreed, it could be a step closer to reality.

Along with serving as a drainage channel for the 38-acre floodplain, preliminary plans are for it developed as a park and commercial/residential area.

"It would be linear - long and narrow," Carpenter said. "Kind of like Indian Bend (in Scottsdale)."

The town manager's vision is for the park to eventually have benches, picnic tables, playground equipment and other facilities.

At a combined meeting of the Payson Town Council and Planning and Zoning Commission a year ago, Green Valley Redevelopment Committee Chairperson Blair Meggitt said,"We want to see shops, restaurants, artesian's galleries, night life, park activities cycling, walking street parties."

The American Gulch area runs parallel to Main Street on the south side with a southern boundary of Aero Drive.

The chance to acquire some of the American Gulch land almost free of charge is good opportunity for the town, Carpenter said.

When the plan was presented a year ago, Community Development Director Bob Gould said he thought it would be a great addition to the area.

"We look at this as the impetus to get a lot more activity in the area," he said, "to get a lot more development accomplished in the area."

When American Gulch was first presented, it carried a price tag of $4.8 million. That amount would be significantly reduced if the land is dedicated to the town by the developers of the Chilson property.

A first reading for the adoption of an ordnance to complete the zone change is slated for April 22. A second reading will be held May 13.

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