Qwest Agrees To Main Street Facade

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Qwest has agreed to work with the Main Street Program to erect an Old West storefront facade to mask its service facility at 300 W. Main Street.

Main Street Program Manager Carol McCauley revealed the development in her annual update to the Payson Town Council Thursday evening.

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When a Qwest official saw this rendering by local artist Donn Morris, he showed it to higher-ups and got their OK to make it a reality. If all goes well, the Qwest service facility at 300 W. Main Street should soon be concealed by an authentic Western facade.

"The Main Street Design Review Committee is working with Qwest and they have agreed to partner with us," McCauley told the council. "We're going to provide materials for them to put a false front over that service yard and they're going to provide the volunteers."

McCauley said the construction materials for the project will be donated through McIntyre Construction.

The facade concept is based on a rendering by local artist Donn Morris, a member of the Main Street Program Board of Directors. Morris completed several concept drawings based on the board's vision for Main Street.

Those renderings were on the wall of the Main Street office at Green Valley Park when a Qwest executive -- there for an economic development meeting -- saw them.

"Victor Daniels, the community affairs manager for Northern Arizona, was waiting for the meeting to start and I asked him to look at them," McCauley said. "He thought it was a great idea and it kind of went from there."

If the Qwest facade project is successful, McCauley said there are several other Main Street businesses she plans to approach about doing the same -- it is hoped at no cost to the property owners.

In her presentation to the council, McCauley reported that Main Street reinvestment dollars for the 2002-2003 fiscal year totaled $2,012,342. Reinvestment figures for the previous two years were $1,989,867 and $1,877,099 respectively.

Thanks in large part to the relocation and expansion of Mad Dawg's & Mel's restaurant, McCauley said Main Street added 49.5 new jobs during the 2002-2003 fiscal year.

Wildfire Protection update

Payson Fire Chief Marty deMasi made a presentation to the council at Thursday's meeting on the Community Wildfire Protection Plan for Northern Gila County. He was joined by Tommie Cline Martin, recent winner of the Republican primary for district one county supervisor.

Through the plan, the county hopes to get a share of the $720 million available each year through the Healthy Forest Restoration Act. A recently completed series of neighborhood and community meetings featured an interactive landscape computer model developed by Northern Arizona University that allows residents to participate in the creation of a wildfire protection plan.

"How wonderful it has been to watch all the different fire districts come together, the town, the county, and work on something that makes tremendously good sense for everybody," Martin said.

While the plan incorporates current forest thinning projects such as the Regional Payson Area Project (RPAP) and the Payson Wildland Urban Interface Project, Martin told the council it can be much more than just a thinning project.

"One of the ways the county is looking at this is along the Control Road -- maybe being able to partner up with the Forest Service with federal funding to turn that Control Road into a true escape route, a true transportation artery that gives people a real back way out of there. Another way is to provide infrastructure for these communities that have as their weak link water availability, delivery and storage. I think we are only limited by our creativity as to how we can use this plan."

Internet council coverage

The council authorized the purchase of streaming software that will allow council meetings to be broadcast live on the Internet. The streaming service also will allow people to access and print meeting agendas, view previous council meetings, and access video archives by agenda item.

"The cost of the service -- an initial $23,000 plus a $750 monthly management fee -- will be paid primarily out of money received from CableVision through its agreement with the town," Town Manager Fred Carpenter said.

American Gulch extension

A request for a 90-day extension to complete a study of the feasibility of the American Gulch Plan was pulled from the consent agenda, but ultimately passed 7-0.

The American Gulch Plan would create a 200-foot-wide channel along with a pedestrian walkway and bicycle path running from Sawmill Crossing to Green Valley Park.

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

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