Lately, it’s been hard to open the newspaper or turn on the radio without hearing about the debate over Proposition 401, which would allow for the construction of a new family YMCA facility here in town.
It’s also hard to ignore that the majority of the opposition cites what they see as a poor location choice as their No. 1 reason to side against the new recreation center. Importantly, the new center will be paid for by the nonprofit sector and private donation, not taxpayers.
I’d like to clear up some of the issues I’ve heard through the grapevine and seen in letters to the editor as of late.
First, the land the YMCA would need to build their facility is a very small portion of Rumsey Park. Only five of the existing 80 acres would be used, with the majority of the facility constructed west of Taylor Pool, on currently unused land where other buildings and parking spots already exist, making any land or tree disturbance minimal at most. Some five or 10 trees may have to be replaced.
Contrary to popular belief, the location was not chosen at random, or based on financial consideration. Rather, it was chosen as a result of numerous studies, approvals and recommendations by town officials.
What greater authority is there than the U.S. Forest Service, to tell us this is an acceptable location? Surely, the organization solely dedicated to, as their motto states, “Caring for the land and serving people,” has the best interests of both at heart. The Forest Service originally deeded Rumsey Park to Payson for parks and recreation.
Secondly, in a Payson Roundup article dated Oct. 14, Judy Shafferkoetter, vice chair of Friends of Payson, the group leading the opposition, said, “They should not be giving the park away for a business that’s going to be charging to use the park.” This statement is misleading and inaccurate for a number of reasons:
The town is not “giving” the park away. Rather, the YMCA would lease a very small portion of the land while the Town of Payson always retains ownership.
It is false to state the YMCA would charge to use the park.
The YMCA would charge user fees to use the facility (and even these will be based on income), not the park, of which the majority will remain untouched.
Third — as the Payson Roundup stated in its editorial supporting Proposition 401, the YMCA will pay or save the town $150,000 per year at Rumsey Park.
In short, the proposed Rumsey Park location was not drawn from a hat. It was determined time and time again, through multiple methods, that the Rumsey Park/Taylor Pool site provides the best possible environmental and economic benefits to the Town of Payson.
I’ll hope you’ll join me in voting yes.
Susan M. Connell, Payson vice mayor