Payson Mayor Kenny Evans has abandoned his effort to convince the Humane Society to move its proposed animal shelter from just off Main Street to town-owned land next to the rodeo grounds.
Evans met with the Humane Society board on Saturday in an effort to get a decision. After the meeting, he said sources told him the group had decided not to move from the two acres just off Main Street to five acres of town-owned land overlooking the rodeo grounds.
Humane Society officials did not return calls before deadline. However, the group has scheduled a press conference for 2 p.m. today to make an announcement.
“I understand why they don’t want to move, so the town will go forward with an upper Green Valley Park,” said Evans.
Evans said he made dozens of phone calls and held hours of meetings, trying to answer a constantly shifting barrage of questions.
“I told them, if you’ve already made up your mind — I want to know now,” said Evans.
Although the board didn’t commit itself on the spot, Evans said he later learned the group had decided not to move.
The Humane Society spent years trying to find a site before settling on its current property, before the town granted a conditional use permit. The town council then rejected an appeal of that approval by the developer of an adjacent luxury condo project. But Evans then started a whirlwind of negotiations aimed at shifting the shelter to half of an 11-acre parcel the town had offered to a convention hotel, before that plan collapsed.
Evans suggested that the new site would offer a larger, less problematic site for the animal shelter, while freeing up its present site for a project that would enhance Main Street.
The Humane Society has already launched a campaign to raise some $3 million before January, when the group hopes to break ground on a new facility.
A weary Evans said the final meeting convinced him the group would not support a move. He said members of the group raised questions about the costs of even minor items like soil testing.
“I said, I’ll pay for a soil test myself, but I need an answer,” Evans said.
Instead, Evans says he hopes the town can develop the site for some other use that dovetails with the event center.
He predicted that within a year the town will have a new lake and perhaps an artificial stream on an adjacent five-acre site where the town has recently acquired land for a retention basin for floodwater. By adding water
water from a wastewater treatment plant owned by the Tonto Apache Tribe, he hopes to create a lake, a park and a stream.
That could enhance the site for an existing nearby condominium development and perhaps an exhibit hall or even a deluxe camping area.
He said he hopes the Humane Society will raise the money to build on its present site. “I really don’t have a dog in this fight,” he said. “I wish them well … and if wishes paid bills, they’d be in great shape.”