Mayor Says 'Growth Is The Nucleus'

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Mayor Barbara Brewer says this election is about growth, and she's in favor of it -- as long as it's done according to the guidelines the town has in place.

"I am for responsible growth controlled by planning and zoning, and following the general land use plan that the citizens put together," she said. "Those citizens worked to formulate a plan of how they wanted to see the town grow.

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Barbara Brewer

"Growth is the nucleus and everything goes out from that -- water, police, fire, streets."

Brewer says she had no idea that the issue of taking water from Star Valley would become the divisive issue it has, but she believes the residents of the new town of Diamond Star are unduly concerned.

"The Star Valley people say, ‘Oh, we don't want you to take that water -- it's our water.' (My response:) ‘It's not being used anywhere.'"

Brewer also doesn't believe the issue is a moral one.

"I don't think it's moral; I think it's business -- as long as we're not hurting anyone," she said.

The mayor also believes the residents of Diamond Star would have been better served by annexation into Payson than by incorporation.

"We would have (annexed them), but we wanted to do what they wanted to do, and on two separate occasions they came to the council and asked for two separate things," she said. "You can't do that if it's not agendized."

Looking at the big water picture, Brewer thinks it best to let Public Works Director Buzz Walker and his staff worry about it.

"I'd say let the water people take care of the water because they're the ones that know," she said. "There's water, and we're continuing to practice safe yield, and we will from now into perpetuity."

But she also believes that continued conservation by the town's residents is essential.

"We're actually able to buy some time until we get new water -- whether it comes from the forest, whether it comes from Mr. Horton, whether it comes from Blue Ridge -- through water conservation," she said. "People forget they live in the desert and they want to have these green, plush lawns and not native plants. That is so ludicrous."

To those who complain about water restrictions while the town continues to allow new subdivisions, Brewer says:

"What's the big deal about watering every other day? At least you can still water; at least you can wash your car.

"We had to put some restrictions in place to slow people down from wasting it. Water's a precious resource and those of us who have grown up in Arizona know that and we respect that."

Brewer, who has been a member of the town council since 1996, does have reservations about the town policy that directs developers to go find their own water and bring it to the town.

In fact, she said she voted against it.

"That started in 1999, and I was against it because of this very thing we're dealing with right now," she said. "It's the ordinances that give (Horton) the hold, and we had to honor our ordinances when we said, ‘OK, go out and get water.'

"Who knew that (taking water from Star Valley) was going to happen? If you went back to the ordinances and changed them, that wouldn't happen anymore."

Brewer cited the progress the town has made on street repairs as a major accomplishment of the current council under her leadership.

"We more than doubled the road repairs and new road improvements in this last year," she said. "That's what the voters told us they wanted, and that's what we're doing.

"We did 16.5 miles this year and that's good. The most we've ever done before is seven (miles). This is the best council I've worked with since I've been on there."

Another accomplishment the mayor is proud of is the master plan to preserve trails while building new subdivisions.

"The trails are going to be protected, maybe not the ones that you want to use, that I want to use, but we have a trails master plan and we're working that into all the subdivisions," she said.

Brewer continues to encourage tourism, and to believe in Main Street as an excellent opportunity to increase it, if the mix is tweaked.

"We don't need it to be all service industry down there," she said. "We need it to be mom and pop shops, a little coffee shop, a little bakery, little knickknack stuff. Those are the things people travel across America to see."

The focus of her next term, she says, will be on bringing Blue Ridge water to Payson, on moving the county seat from Globe to Payson, on fixing the streets (and getting more money from the county to help do it), and on making the college more responsive to the needs of this community.

She believes the day will come when concern about growth will be a thing of the past.

"Somebody just told me that when you reach a population of 20,000 (the attitude) changes," she said. "People aren't as into the smallness of the town."

Payson, she estimates, currently has about 15,000 residents.

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