Payson is rushing to pull off a last-minute, $40,000 election that will determine whether the town leases parkland to the YMCA for a gym and swim center.
The deadline to register to vote in the Nov. 4 General Election is Oct. 6.
The election will require two mailings to the town’s roughly 9,000 registered voters. The first mailing will go out between Sept. 29 and Oct. 4 and will include a pamphlet that contains arguments for and against the ballot measure.
A second mailing will go out on about Oct. 14 and will include a ballot and a return envelop. All voting will take place by mail.
The election will settle a long and convoluted process that consumed nearly two years of back and forth negotiating between the town and the Valley of the Sun YMCA.
But when the town and the YMCA reached a near-final agreement, a group of citizens formed the Friends of Payson and gathered 1,500 signatures to force an election on the long-term lease of five acres and the existing Taylor Pool for the $5.6 million recreation complex.
The YMCA wants to build a gym, teen center, rock-climbing wall and fitness center and to enclose Taylor Pool and add a year-round play pool. The YMCA would continue to offer public swim hours in the summer, which would save the town $130,000 annually. The rest of the year people wanting to use the facility would have to join the YMCA at a cost of between $35 and $75 per month. The YMCA had agreed to also let the town use the facility on a space-available basis for town recreation programs at minimal cost.
The town validated the signatures seeking to overturn the council’s action and scheduled the special election. But a lawsuit backed by the YMCA convinced a superior court judge to throw out the petitions because of mistakes on the paperwork creating the political committee that circulated the petitions.
The town and the Friends of Payson appealed that decision and last week convinced a three-judge appeals court panel to overturn the lower court ruling and put the referendum back on the ballot.