On my first visit to Payson in 1948, there were no traffic signals, and no roundabout either. There was a quaint little mountain town surrounding a lumber mill. Payson's unique charm flowed from the majestic ponderosas that flanked the Beeline Highway. A few died at nature's whim, but most, to that unrelenting need for more asphalt ... just one more car in the parking lot.
If it's true that the ponderosa pine is one of the defining elements of the image of Payson, it seems that only a few of the designers and developers of new commercial projects may actually understand that. As a result, that unique character of Payson is very gradually being diluted, and in to many instances, replaced with a menagerie of relatively meaningless green stuff.
Why not give up the parking space to save a significant native tree? f one must be cut down to make that extra buck, find a place to plant another. I know our city planners fight this battle every day.f you own property along the Beeline without pines (or other meaningful landscape), plant a native tree and nurture it as your part of doing something positive and meaningful for your town so that in time, visitors and citizens will have a stronger positive image of the entire town of Payson. It just makes good economic sense to have a beautiful town because then, people "come and spend money."
The commercial establishments that have sacrificed having that "one more parking place" and have cared for, preserved and supplemented our ponderosa legacy should be thanked and rewarded.
Payson has creative city planners that formulate ways to provide incentives for commercial developments (and existing properties), to work harder toward preserving existing and planting new trees. Yes, we need more than just ponderosa pines, but I believe they are the living works of art that make the clearest statement that "Payson is a special place in Arizona and the USA ... and we are proud of it."
Then ... rethink and recast the elk because the entries to the unique community of Payson are also important, and who knows? Someday the Arizona Department of Transportation might see the light. After all, for some reason they did support the intense bah-relief wall murals along the new 101 Freeway through Scottsdale.
Bob Hedrick, Phoenix