In the mid-90s, a group of 100 citizens gathered for a two-day workshop to plan for the future of Payson. Among topics considered were: industrial sites, retail areas, transportation, water resources, supportable population projections, affordable housing and infrastructure needs.
Since then, some good things have come from that first session. Retail ventures spread east on 260; industrial sites have been developed near the airport; Houston Mesa Campground was developed; Sawmill Crossing came into being; Green Valley Park was created; a model library now graces Rumsey Park; the town now has a public swimming pool; Tyler Parkway became a partial bypass of the busy intersection of highways 260 and 87; the town got a college campus.
But incrementally some changes have occurred which have subverted the well-thought-out plan. (1) Formerly "affordable" housing is not affordable for those who were originally in need of it. (2) A large out-of-state retailer arrived and effectively killed its local mom and pop competition, pushed harder and built a larger establishment and now it threatens our established grocery stores.
(3) The town has expanded its residential areas and stretched its investment in infrastructures to support the expansion, but older streets and roads are failing and some are downright dangerous.
(4) An unscrupulous county from the southern part of the state came to mine Payson of its college potential by hijacking its student enrollment. Gila County now will have to pay tuition for students attending community college in other districts, or those younger people will have to forego the opportunity of a college education.
(5) Yet another outsider has ridden into Payson with pockets full of money and a "the hell with the locals" attitude. The town had requirements established for developers which included making sure we did not exceed our water resources. Finding willing accomplices the group plans to go ahead with its plans to build Payson beyond its current means to support.
And which is worse? To do something which is illegal or something which is immoral? Yes! It is immoral to steal Star Valley water. In the Old West, it was both illegal and immoral to steal a man's horse. In a desert or drought, it is definitely immoral to steal a man's water.
What will the outsiders do after they've had their way with Payson? They'll swagger off to the next nice little town and smash and bribe their way through the town's plans and rules to line their pockets with more money, leaving behind a place left with rules meant to be broken and filled with animosity and distrust.
Why must Payson always be a patsy for those who have no thought but for more power and money for themselves?
Glenn and Lucy Groenke, Payson