Main Street Justice Facilities Concept Unveiled

Most, not all, like jail, courthouse plans

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If plans for a new jail and courthouse pan out, Gila County could be helping establish an "anchor" for Main Street in Payson.

Based on concept plans for the new justice facilities that were unveiled Wednesday, the current county campus would be stretched west along Main Street as far as the Main Street Grille to accommodate the new facilities.

The county would acquire Napa Auto Parts, Chris Smith Investments, Payson Mini-Storage and two other buildings to make room for the new facilities.

After seeing the plans, Payson Town Councilor Su Connell said she liked what she saw.

"It's a good idea, and I think it could be a powerful anchor," she said. "This, to me, feels good."

Although she said she is concerned with traffic flow associated with the plan, Connell agreed with the recommendation of the town's jails committee to keep the location the same.

To accommodate the plan's layout, Colcord Road would be eliminated through the county campus and Frontier Street would be made a two-way street.

Town Engineer LaRon Garrett said the plans looked feasible.

"I think it will work just fine," he said.

Many Gila County and Rim Country notables attended the unveiling at the Superior Courtroom annex at the Gila County Sheriff's Office in Payson.

Several said they were optimistic about the future of the justice facilities in Payson.

Ken Volz, a member of a volunteer facilities planning committee that came up with the general requirements for the facilities in both Payson and Globe, agreed that the Payson plans create synergy for Main Street.

"The county is creating an asset for the town," he said.

"(It will be) a critical mass that will create Main Street excitement -- that's what this adds to the scenario."

Supervisor Tommie Martin echoed Volz's thoughts about improving Main Street. She said that Green Valley Park is a destination on one end of the street and that the justice facilities could improve the other end.

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Councilor Su Connell (left) and Gila County Supervisor Jose Sanchez listen intently as Tommie Martin explains the layout of the Gila County Jail Concept to Councilor Ed Blair.

"Main Street isn't what it could be," she said. "If we do this well and right, we could have an anchor on either side of Main Street."

A dissenting opinion, however, came from Payson Mini-Storage co-owner Paul Pollock.

He was visibly angry at the prospect of the county buying out his property.

"There's property all over the place without people on it," he said. "There is no necessity to uproot businesses and homes to do this project."

Pollock said that property near the airport is available and could provide more space for expansion than the current location. He said he is in the process of building a house atop the mini-storage and plans to retire on Main Street.

"We're not selling," he said.

Supervisor Tommie Martin was quick to assure those with doubts that the plans were only concept at this stage.

"We're still open to all ideas and we ask for them," she said. "Nothing is cast in concrete."

Martin said the main responsibilities of the jails committee were to determine the need for the facilities and to make sure they were economically viable.

"This will save $4 million to stay on current square footage," she said. "It had to make economic sense. This is the best solution in this area."

"We're going to have to do something," she added.

Martin said that building designs would be decided by all stakeholders in the project.

She mentioned the Main Street Merchants Guild, Green Valley Redevelopment Area Committee, Payson Design Review Board and the Town of Payson as groups that would have input on the final plans.

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