Council To Hear Reports On Ymca, American Gulch

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Plans for moving ahead on a new YMCA will be presented at the regular meeting of the Payson Town Council at 6 p.m. Thursday.

Demand for such a facility was ascertained through a market research study conducted by The Winfield Consulting Group, Inc. It identified 357 households with "a great deal of interest" in joining such a facility, and an additional 519 households with "a lot of interest."

The study concluded "that the YMCA and the town of Payson have an opportunity to establish a community-based facility focused on fitness, aquatics, total health, sports, and recreation for children and adults of all ages."

Such a collaboration with the YMCA could provide a new community center faster and cheaper than going it alone, according to Sharon Strople, president of Friends of Payson Parks and Recreation.

"When you bring the YMCA into a collaborative effort like this, their nonprofit status can generate volunteers and contributions for a substantial portion of the costs," Strople said.

A previous study, conducted for the town in August 2003 by Ballard, King and Associates, estimated a community center could cost the town more than $11 million and led to the project being tabled.

The Winfield Study was based on a telephone survey of 600 northern Gila County residents.

American Gulch

The council also will hear a presentation by Tischler and Associates on the proposed American Gulch Plan, which concluded that the project is not economically feasible.

The American Gulch Plan involved the development of 44 acres immediately south of properties fronting on Main Street -- including a 200-foot-wide channel running from Sawmill Crossing to Green Valley Park.

Total cost of the project, including necessary land acquisition and channel construction is estimated at $4.8 million. Because of its price tag, the Green Valley Redevelopment Committee proposed the feasibility study to assess how much of that cost the town could realistically expect to recoup.

Councilor Judy Buettner was critical of the study's conclusion:

"It is quite negative," she said, "but I think they took into consideration things that were way beyond the gulch itself. They took into consideration the whole area. I'm hoping we can go forward."

Payson Event Center

The council also is expected to grant Hospitality Support Group (HSG) a 90-day extension of its memorandum of understanding with the town, which expired Feb. 14. HSG has proposed a $21 million expansion of the Payson Event Center that would include a new amphitheater, conference center, hotel and a cover for the current rodeo facility.

Town Manager Fred Carpenter said the extension is a good sign, not an indication that HSG, a Valley company that developed and operates the Prescott Resort, is having problems lining up financial backing for the project.

The council will hold an executive session at 5 p.m. Thursday preceding the regular meeting "concerning negotiations for the purchase, sale or lease of real property on South McLane Road." Both Carpenter and Mayor Barbara Brewer declined to discuss the issue.

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