Because there has been so much discussion regarding the Gila County Board of Supervisors' proposed tax increase and their stated promise to use the tax to build and upgrade facilities, I feel it is time I address this issue. I am doing it in three parts: 1) Relationship with the County, 2) The Proposed Tax Increase and 3) Facilities and Location. This article addresses the location.
COUNCILS OF PAYSON, STAR VALLEY SHOULD HAVE BEEN CONSULTED
To construct a jail and courthouse in the very middle of Payson, and expand the site so that businesses are lost and streets are changed, without talking to the official governments of northern Gila County, is offensive. We are disappointed that we were not included in a proper way in the process. I also feel this is far too important to give preference to speed over proper approach.
We all agree that a justice center is needed here, but not at the present site. You do not need to locate county facilities on prime commercial property. It would be wiser to put it on less expensive vacant land, sell the current land for development, and use the dollars for building.
MAIN STREET AND 87 SITE IS INADEQUATE
Globe has 13.5 acres for their site... but the present county site in Payson is only 3 (three!) acres. Even after the county acquires the proposed additional property, they still will only have about 6 acres, when 8 to 10 are needed. It's hard to imagine enough parking spaces for the needed increase in staff and public, now, and certainly not in the future. As the county needs additional space, they plan on taking more prime commercial property on Main Street.
The fact that private property must be acquired means that an "Eminent Domain" contest in court is a certainty. Not only will that cost taxpayers lots of money, but it will delay the project and tie up that property for some time before construction could even begin.
ALTERNATE SITES ARE AVAILABLE
No other site was seriously considered. There was no comparative or thorough cost/benefit analysis done on any of the alternatives. Realtors, developers and finance experts have emerged with ideas since the county's current site was selected. There are other alternatives that have cheaper land and do not involve demolishing structures, which can be very costly. We need to get the Realtor and developer communities involved in providing a detailed analysis of each site.
Other possible sites are land by the ranger station, land by town hall (which would allow us to combine County and Town of Payson services), land by the airport, land south of Main Street, land on Tyler Parkway and the facilities that were built for medical offices on East Main Street.
This is a major investment for Gila County and will have a significant impact on Payson and its future. Consequently, this deserves a much more thorough study than it has gotten so far.
So, I encourage you to vote "no" on both sales tax and bond as there is no specific vote on the location. These "NO" votes should encourage the Supervisors to engage in serious discussion of where the much-needed justice center should be.