The town council will consider dipping into its contingency fund to begin work on a fuel break on the town's southern and western boundaries.
"We want to do a fuel break pretty badly around town and we're trying to get the Forest Service to come up with all the money, but they're saying they may not be able to get all the money -- at least not right away," Town Manager Fred Carpenter said. "We're telling the council, ‘Hey, this needs to get done before the really heavy-duty fire season hits.' We're trying to get it done this spring."
Payson Fire Chief Marty deMasi says the town is most vulnerable on its southern flank, but the proposed fuel break covers a total of 346 acres on the south and west boundaries. While the Willow Fire two summers ago and the Edge Complex and Cave Creek Complex fires last summer did a lot to create a barrier against future fires, they weren't enough.
"There are areas between where the Willow Fire hit and the town that are hazard areas, and prevailing winds are south and west," Carpenter said. "If we get a fire that starts south and west of town, it would be nice if it got up to within 100 yards of town and then quit."
The town manager added that the town might ultimately be reimbursed.
"Maybe we won't have to spend it," he said. "Maybe we'll get it back, but we want the authority to spend it if we need to and that's what this is all about."
The council will meet at 6 p.m. Thursday to discuss the fuel break.
Also on the council agenda:
- A council decision request to create a resolution to adopt the Town of Payson Hazard Mitigation Plan. Carpenter said the council is not being asked to approve the plan Thursday evening because it is so long and complex.
"It's a 300-page document," he said "Essentially it's a county-wide plan and we're all participating. We're all in it together."
While the town currently has an emergency operations plan, the new plan expands upon it.
The current plan, called the evacuation operations plan, was developed exclusively for wildfire evacuations.
"Evacuation is part of (the new plan), and it includes evacuation in town and people coming from another place and landing here," deMasi said. "But besides fires, there are floods, wind events, hazardous materials, civil disturbances -- there's all kinds of components (in the new plan).
- The second reading of a proposed ordinance making it illegal to discharge bows and arrows and crossbows in or adjacent to any municipal park. The local Boy Scouts are asking that wording be added allowing special permits for supervised events they hold.
The measure was initiated after a goose was shot through the head with an arrow in Green Valley Park last month.
- The first readings of proposed town code changes to allow attached housing on contiguous lots and to allow the "true up" of water development fees for multifamily low income housing projects.