This is in response to Bob Foster's letter concerning Payson's growth. I agree with Bob. I moved here in Feb 2003 and loved this small town's feel. Coming from a city of more than 400,000 back east, this was a dramatic and welcomed change for me. The closeness of everyone knowing everyone and all are friendly.
But things are changing. Since moving here, my girlfriend and I have traveled the state to the towns of Oatman, Jerome, Camp Verde, Alpine, Eager, Young, Seligman, Tombstone, Prescott, Winslow, Tombstone, and many more.
Some towns have great interest in their history. Oatman is a great example. It's main, if not only, existence today is from tourism. The town was once a bustling gold rush town and now is a living ghost town. It could have just fallen to dust, but the town made a plan and thrives today, using the "Old West" theme as the attraction. Prescott realizes its history as well and keeps certain parts from their past alive and well today.
It's towns like these that know what's important. I'm not saying to live in the past. Just don't forget it. Payson has missed the boat. Our past is remembered in photos and mementos alone for the most part. Give credit to those who remember those bits. The buildings are gone. Why? Did corporate take over? Tear down to bring in new?
There isn't much preserved. Payson's "Historic Main Street" is a wash in my eyes. I understand that much effort has been put into preserving or renewing it.
Payson's few claims to fame are Zane Grey and "The World's Oldest Continuous Rodeo."
When the tourist drives north to Payson, the bright lights of a casino greet him. Going farther, there's nothing much to brag about. The adobe Hopi House on Beeline and Longhorn is gone in favor of Walgreens. High on a hill sits Wal-Mart. How many banks and gas stations do we need? I'm not blaming the people of Payson.
I'm not blaming anyone in particular. It's just that from what I've witnessed in these past 2-1/2 years, the town chose to move on with whatever is needed to promote growth. Like Bob said, "Phoenix is coming."
Why can't we stay small? Instead, we choose to build for the money obviously. It's sad. I moved from this once already. A small town grew and grew. The atmosphere changed. What we once had is now gone. Payson, if you only knew what you're losing. I've seen this before.
Larry Markusson, Payson
Editor's note: The "Hopi House" was neither old or authentic. It was originally built as another shopping venue.