Committee Suggests Three Sites For County Courts, Jail In Payson


A citizens committee will try to convince Gila County to move quickly to build a jail and court facility in Payson on one of three proposed sites -- and to act quickly before the land gets bought by someone else.

The committee set up to study plans for building county facilities in Payson in the wake of last year's failed bond issue made its pitch Tuesday morning to Gila County officials and will also present its plan at the Payson Town Hall at 4 p.m. on Thursday.

The ad hoc committee included two Payson council members and several people who campaigned heavily against last year's bond issue that would have built county facilities on a six-acre site on Main Street, half of which would have been acquired through condemnation.

That proposal was rejected by 75 percent of the voters, in an election with a 25 percent turnout.

The committee hopes some innovative funding suggestions that would avert the need for bonds or a vote and broad agreement on one of three possible sites will this time earn the measure wide support.

The $22 million plan would include a 96-bed county jail, two superior courtrooms, a justice court and sheriff facilities in Payson, plus an upgrade of jail and operation facilities in Globe.

"There are some real needs here and it shouldn't be that hard of a sale," said committee chairman Leon Keddington. "It's just a question of whether the county has the political will to go forward."

The committee identified three sites in Payson for the local facilities. The sites included:

South of Main Street: This 10.73-acre parcel adjacent to American Gulch would cost an estimated $2.66 million to acquire, is in a "good" location in terms of access to other government offices and would require no condemnation. The choice was the committee's top site, due to the location and the boost the project would give to a struggling area of town.

Behind Payson Town Hall: This 13.5-acre site would cost $3.75 million, is a "good" location because of its proximity to the Payson Police Department and would require no condemnation. The site would present some good opportunities to lure in developers with additional projects.

SE Corner of the Beeline and Tyler Parkway: This 14-acre site would cost just $2.4 million, but would require extensive grading and is only a "fair" location because of the distance to other government offices.

Payson councilors Andy Romance and Tim Fruth served on the ad hoc committee, which was headed by Keddington, who was a prominent opponent of last year's bond issue. Other committee members included Rex Hinshaw, Larry McIntyre, Sue McIntyre, Gary Gibbons and Kathy Patrick-Baas.

The group estimated that building the county facilities in Payson would entail between $2.5 million and $5 million for land costs, plus $16 million for construction.

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