Trail System Approved

Trails will make Payson accessible on foot, bicycle

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The Payson Town Council has approved the Payson Area Trails System (PATS), formerly referred to in its planning stages as the Community Trails Network. The approved trails system will incorporate the firebreak around Payson as the outer wheel of the network. Trails will run through town like spokes connecting to the firebreak.

The system is a 2007 version and implementation of the original trails master plan that was completed in 1998.

Mary McMullen, recreation coordinator of the Payson Parks and Recreation Department, said it seems like a good time to implement the trails plan.

She said there are no naysayers to the plan, and everyone is working together on the project.

Four centers have been identified in the trails plan -- Sawmill Crossing, Green Valley Park, Rumsey Park and Gila Community College.

She said the trails may be accessed from almost any part of the town.

"You can pretty much go in a circle in any area," McMullen said.

The trail paths in town, when finished, will not allow motorized vehicles.

A map shows trails in and around town that already exist, are usable and will soon be signed.

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Mary McMullen, Payson Parks and Recreation Department recreation coordinator, looks at a map of the in-town trail system approved by council last week.

These trails are planned to form linkages to activity and interest generators and connect logically to origin points such as residential areas, parks and trailhead parking.

McMullen said the town can change what is needed inside the town, but plans on not changing anything outside the town limits.

The council's decision to approve the trail network was "pretty significant," McMullen said. She is now waiting to see how much financial backing the town will give for the PATS concept.

"What is really nice is all of the town's departments are all on board with this," she said, mentioning Town Engineer LaRon Garrett, Community Development Director Jerry Owen and the fire department.

"They are all working together with parks and recreation. It's a great cooperative effort," she said.

McMullen said the town may now submit the trails plan to the Arizona Parks Board, which will open doors for funds.

She said the PATS will be pieced together, over time, with certain portions of the trails being finished before others.

The whole project, she said, will not be done quickly, and anticipates it taking five to 10 years for completion, with funding being the key to success.

McMullen said the forest portion of PATS will be completed quicker. The Town received a letter of support for the trail system from Payson District Ranger Ed Armenta.

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