Group Envisions Roundabout Island As Gateway To North Payson

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They call themselves the Payson Gateway Project and they're leading an effort to turn the roundabout at Highway 87 and Tyler Parkway into the northern gateway to Payson.

The Payson Gateway Project is trying to raise $65,000 to put a larger-than-life brass elk atop a rock outcropping, with native landscaping and the Payson town logo inside the traffic circle.

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Local architect Gary Spraggins created this rendering of the proposed roundabout gateway, featuring a larger-than-life brass elk atop a rock outcropping, with native landscaping and the Payson town logo.

The Arizona Department of Transportation's landscaping plans, according to the group's chairwoman, Jeanie Langham, were minimal.

"I called and asked ADOT how it was going to be landscaped, because this was an opportunity to do things well," Langham said. "(Their) plan at this juncture was to put in gravel and two ponderosas. Our committee just felt we wanted to use this opportunity because its a gateway to our community from the north."

The group is working with the U.S. Forest Service to acquire the boulders.

"They're going to be beautiful -- all lichen covered," Langham said.

The landscaping will include at least three ponderosa pines, other native trees, and drought-tolerant shrubs. Bids are still coming in from several artists for the brass elk.

The elk is particularly appropriate because elk used to frequent the meadow where The Home Depot now sets, according to Langham.

Payson's two Rotary clubs and the Payson Xeriscape Council are providing support, and the Payson Town Council and ADOT have both endorsed the project.

"ADOT wants us to hurry and put something up, because for a roundabout to be successful you don't need to see through it; you need to see the oncoming traffic," Langham said.

But most important to Langham is the opportunity to set an example for others to follow.

"Maybe it'll give some synergy to this vision of looking at things with beauty in mind, to maintain and not tear down, to look at everything in our community with a little more planning and forethought," Langham said.

Payson Gateway Project is working under the umbrella of the nonprofit group of the Friends of Payson Parks and Recreation. Diane Enos serves as the project's co-chairwoman; town Councilor John Wilson is treasurer.

Checks made out to Payson Gateway Project should be mailed to P.O. Box 1525, Payson, AZ 85547. Contributions are tax deductible. For more information, call (928) 474-6610.

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