Rim country residents and visitors alike will soon be able to enjoy rodeos in the cool comfort of shade.
The Payson Town Council approved a $21 million proposal to develop the Payson Event Center, including a cover over the current rodeo facility, at its regular meeting Thursday evening. Key components of the plan, originally submitted to the town by Hospitality Support Group (HSG) on Aug. 17, include:
- A 150-room hotel with an indoor pool, fitness center, game area, and area dedicated to Payson history.
- A 1,000-seat amphitheater that would be home to concert series and other musical events.
- A 7,000-square-foot conference center that includes a grand ballroom and is capable of handling meetings of up to 500 people.
- A cowboy-themed steakhouse restaurant and saloon with sawdust on the floor and "a flavor of history."
- The cover for the rodeo arena, a topic of debate since the rodeo grounds was relocated from Rumsey Park in 1996.
"It's only the beginning of a long process," HSG President Bruce Berres said after the meeting. "It's a project we love, and we're excited about it, but it's going to take the cooperation of a lot of different entities to make it a reality."
See related story: Councilor clarifies town's Event Center commitment
Drilling for water in the forest was also on the agenda Thursday evening, as the council extended an agreement regarding the environmental assessment in progress in the Diamond Rim area.
"We had a memo of understanding with the Forest Service we entered into about four years ago," Town Manager Fred Carpenter said. "That old one expired and we're still not done."
Besides several minor changes to the agreement, the council approved a nine-month extension which will give the parties until March 31, 2005 to complete the environmental assessment. While the changes are small, the important thing, according to Carpenter, is that the project is moving forward again after being stalled for months while lawyers argued semantics.
"Last week the Forest Service and our consultants at SWCA (Environmental Consultants) had a meeting to get things going again," he said.
Other council action
The council also approved a contract to install flashing warning lights at all school zones within the Payson Unified School District. Carpenter said the warning lights will usher in a new era for Payson motorists.
"What's going to happen is that when we install these warning lights you'll come up to, say, Payson Elementary School and you'll see a sign that'll say ‘Speed Limit 15 When Flashing,'" he said. "They'll only be flashing when school is in session and it's programmable 365 days ahead.
"Right now drivers don't know when school is in session. They're just guessing."
The $49,000 cost for the lights will be shared equally between the town and school district.
The council also OK'd a contract to install a new picnic ramada in Green Valley Park. It is one of three projects at the park funded by a lakes improvement grant from Arizona State Parks.
The other two, a permanent rest room at the south end of the lake and an informational kiosk, have already been completed.
Finally, the council gave McIntyre Construction the go-ahead on Spirit Ridge Equestrian Estates, a five-lot horse community at 600 E. Tyler Parkway.
On Aug. 12, the council had denied a zoning change that would have allowed a nine-lot subdivision at that location.
The nine-lot subdivision was denied because it would have created additional water use in violation of the town's adopted policy to operate within the "safe yield" philosophy. In effect, that policy means that the town will not grow beyond the ability of water supplies to support water demand.
Performance measurement tips
The focus was on the future at two other council meetings this week. On Tuesday at 5 p.m., a special meeting was held to learn how to implement performance measures.
"We've got a gentleman, Peter Kettner, who recently retired and moved up here who's an expert in performance measurement and developing performance measures, and he talked to council and staff about that process so we could use it the next day at the corporate strategic planning meeting," Carpenter said. "He did this for years as a professor at Arizona State University, and he volunteered to do this at no cost."
Strategic plan meeting
The first of two Corporate Strategic Plan meetings was held the following day at Majestic Mountain Inn.
"The council got done about 12:30 and gave us direction," Carpenter said. "(Town staff) went and spent a couple hours in the afternoon trying to figure out how to turn it into something."
The next Corporate Strategic Plan meeting is scheduled for Nov. 17.