Group Offers Payson A Makeover

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On Thursday night, the Payson Town Council met to discuss what could be done to make the town more visually appealing.

Mark Frederickson, director of the Tejido Group, college of architecture and landscape architecture from the University of Arizona, spoke to the group about his success in beautifying other towns such as Pinetop, Show Low and Camp Verde.

The Tejida Group uses University of Arizona graduate students to implement and develop "cityscape" plans.

The first and possibly the most important step, he told the council, is to listen to what the people in the town want.

As an example, he pointed to work his group did in Springerville where every business was interviewed.

He said to beautify the town, the group needs to work with experts in the history of the town, Game and Fish, intercultural groups, the mayor and council, Arizona Department of Transportation and town engineers.

He mentioned they use case studies quite a bit to look at what has been successful in the past, as well as any mistakes that may have been made.

The U of A professor said plans need to start with data collection, synthetic and design of master plans, a presentation with three to four alternate master plans before coming up with an optimal master plan.

He said, there have been some towns where at first glance he did not know what could be done because they were "so ugly." Landscape architecture was the key to make those towns more attractive.

In Pinetop, members of the group walked every square inch of the town, took aerial photos and were able to spot two creek beds that had been neglected, which they were able to incorporate into the community's plan.

After being asked what he could do for Payson, Frederickson said the first thing his group would have to do is listen carefully.

He added that identifying people to interview would be a starting point. Surveys, walking the whole town and taking photos would need to be done to formulate a plan.

When Mayor Bob Edwards and others inquired about the cost, Frederickson said he would be stretching it if he talked about dollars at this point.

Jeanie Langham, who is a member of the design and review board, was instrumental in getting Frederickson to come to Payson.

"We have to look 20 years down the road," she said, mentioning Pinetop with 4,100 residents was willing to spend the money to make its town more appealing.

Estimates put Pinetop's cost at about $150,000.

Linda Parsons, a member on the mayor's Beautification Task Force, said the town needs to stop doing what it is doing now until there is a clear, thought-out idea.

Edwards, after being asked how quickly could the town get something in place with the Tejida Group, said the task force would need to move as quickly as possible.

Councilor Tim Fruth said the Town of Payson is not the most appealing to people as they enter the community.

"We need to have this plan, so we can make Payson a bit more attractive when (people) drive in," he said. "How can we develop a plan that will impact Payson for the next 50 to 100 years?"

Payson Regional Medical Center Chief Executive Officer Chris Wolf asked how long it would take for a plan to be put in place and completed.

Frederickson said it took the group 15 weeks to complete the Pinetop plan.

Wolf also wanted to know, if an agreement was made, when could the council act on it.

"I, for one, am extremely dedicated to getting this done," Edwards said, adding that he wants to sit down with Frederickson to discuss this some more.

Councilor Su Connell said there are a lot of disciplines and ideas in Payson and she wondered how Frederickson and his group would put everything together. "We do not want to change the uniqueness (of Payson)," Connell said.

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