If you were one of the 300 in attendance at the Gila County Board of Supervisors meeting at the Best Western Inn of Payson Tuesday morning, you had to come away impressed with the proceedings.
The residents of Star Valley and Diamond Point Shadows were granted incorporation as the town of Diamond Star, and both supervisors and attendees spoke in glowing language about how well democracy can work when people are united behind a cause.
But there is a dark shadow still hanging over the Rim Country. The town of Payson has 30 days to challenge the incorporation in court, and Sam Streichman, town attorney, intimated at a recent council meeting that it might very well come to that.
We have a word of advice for the council as it considers challenging the new town's right to exist -- don't. The Gila County Attorney's Office disagrees with Streichman regarding the technicalities he claims the Diamond Star Water Coalition failed to observe in the petition process, but it really doesn't matter anyway.
What each and every member of the town council knows to be true is that more than 900 Diamond Star residents -- well over two-thirds of the registered voters -- signed the incorporation petition expressing their desire to have a say in their future.
To attempt to thwart their will would not reflect positively on the Payson town council. The arguments the town has put forth don't, as they say, hold water. The arguments are:
1. The Diamond Star Water Coalition doesn't represent the views of most of Star Valley and Diamond Point Shadows. Clearly now they do, including movers and shakers like Phil White, Ronnie McDaniel, Ted Pettet and Chuck Heron. And a significant number of Payson residents agree.
2. Payson would have to compete with an incorporated Diamond Star for grants. Isn't that the way the system is supposed to work anyway?
3. Diamond Star is too small and its residents don't know what they're getting into. No smaller than Payson was when it incorporated back in 1973, and probably just as well informed.
The issue of taking water from the Diamond Star area to build subdivisions in Payson has caused enough animosity in the community. Whatever the town would realize from additional tax revenues is surely not enough to compensate for an animosity that could linger for years.
Besides, even if Payson were successful in a court challenge, the residents of Diamond Star would simply start the process all over again. All Payson would accomplish is to delay the inevitable -- and create even more ill will.
It is time for the Rim Country to put this whole sorry episode behind us and move on. Bill Rappaport, president of the Diamond Star Water Coalition, and others have stepped forward and offered to work with Payson on common issues.
The town council should reciprocate, and a good way to begin the healing process is to not challenge the legality of the new town of Diamond Star.