Revival Of Ox Bow Will Anchor A Renaissance

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OK, I'm a cheerleader, and get a little excited at times. Right now, I believe I have found something to get excited about.

The Ox Bow Saloon & Inn has long held the potential for becoming a premier tourist attraction and a venue for local entertainment of all types. Plans to renovate the old place have been announced before, but like Charlie Brown's attempts to kick the football, plans have been yanked away.

In this frame of reference, it might be understandable that some folks in town might hear the news of a renaissance for the place and yawn. In fact, the news might, indeed, be met with weary cynicism. "Sure," one might hear, "and pigs will soon file a flight plan!" Somehow the town always gets left wondering where the ball went.

Well, folks, get ready to kick some footballs right through the goalposts!Lucy has been replaced.

Plays, musical reviews, comedy routines, storytelling, talent contests -- you name it -- are coming to the Ox Bow, and a great deal of new money is being spent to insure success.

Dinner theater will be a regular event. In addition to a restaurant and sound stage, an outdoor theater is in the works. Several large rooms will be available for local clubs or charitable groups to use as a meeting room or a venue for fund-raising. The fee for this use will be small.

The new owner wants the building to belong as much to the town as to the shareholders. Groups should not have to spend their entire budget just to rent a hall.

Payson adults will have a new option of where to go on a weekend night. Buggy rides will take folks to and from Green Valley Park and all along Main Street. It all sounds very ambitious, and it is, but it is taking form right now.

The building (actually a complex) on the National Registry of Historic Places, will gleam with new polish and clean rest rooms. Already, truckload after truckload of old trash has been hauled away, and the grounds are being completely redone. It will have the old, authentic look, but will be updated to modern standards. Even the old hotel rooms are being updated and will be ready to occupy.

The new owner is dedicated to making the Ox Bow one of Arizona's best tourist attractions and a place the entire area will embrace.

It will be "The Place" to bring out-of-town guests. When the Event Center is built, the Ox Bow will be a natural place to attract convention attendees. Valley folks will have a great reason to come up for a cool weekend and actually stay in town.

This is the perfect anchor for a renewed Main Street. It is the needed draw to pull tourists in. The new owner and the site manager are already spending 20-hour days bringing this dream to life. It will take some time. Mistakes will be made and corrected. A learning curve is necessary, as in all ventures, but this has the look and feel of sure-fire hit.

Unfortunately, rumors and negative speculation have already begun. It seems some folks just don't want to see this venture succeed or believe it can. The Charlie Brown syndrome is being noticed in some quarters.

This is the work and dream of some individuals who don't need an expensive site plan or proposal from the "experts." The building and amenities will far exceed the minimum requirements simply because it is the right way to do things.

The place is a slam-dunk natural as it is, and the renovation and upgrades will only enhance what is already there. There is nothing (or should be nothing) controversial or underhanded going on. This is a win-win for the town and the new owner. Nay-sayers and conspiracy theorists beware.

I have no personal connection to this undertaking other than a firm belief in its future and a shared dream with many others.

I admit to being a cheerleader. This has the potentialo begin a true renaissance, not only on Main Street, but for the whole town.

This is a great example of not waiting for government to plan and build, but for responsible, energetic and talented individuals to step up and take the lead.

I pledge to do anything I can to help.

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