Payson residents interested in welcoming visitors to the community created a group, the Payson Gateway Project, to develop an inviting landscape at the north end of town.
When The Home Depot was planned for Payson, the Arizona Department of Transportation required that a roundabout be built for traffic on Highway 87 in front of the store.
No funding had been allocated for landscaping this 105-foot circle. It was felt this presented an opportunity to create a "gateway" to the community and the Rim Country.
The project members plan to landscape the roundabout with an outcropping of boulders, ponderosa pines, oak trees, grasses and other native vegetation. The centerpiece will be a life-size bronze elk, being created by artist Jim Keller.
Almost all the hardscape/ landscape has been donated by local businesses, including boulders, dirt, decomposed granite and most of the plants. Much of the equipment needed for the project has also been donated.
Labor for planting will be provided by the High Country Xeriscape Council of Arizona, with the Rotary Clubs of the area paying for three ponderosa pines to be planted in the roundabout landscape.
The group is working to raise $31,000 for the other labor and rental of heavy equipment and an irrigation system. The bronze will cost approximately $58,000, which the project members hope to pay for through the sale of 21-inch and smaller desk-top replicas of the work. There will be 24 large replicas and 48 of the desk-size, according to Nancy Cox and Kortni Hage, who are handling publicity for the project. Once those limited pieces have been sold, the molds will be broken, Hage said.
The large replicas, called Maquettes, will sell for $5,500 each, with the desk models costing $2,250.
The Payson Gateway Project is a nonprofit organization. Donations may be made to Payson Gateway Project, P.O. Box 1525, Payson, AZ 85547. For additional information, contact Jeanie Langham, (928) 474-6610.