Thanks to Payson Mayor Kenny Evans in his efforts to untangle the U.S. Forest Service environmental approval process required for proceeding with the Blue Ridge project to bring a permanent water supply to the citizens of Payson and the Rim Country.
Equally important are his and staff efforts to secure federal stimulus money to the tune of $10 million to help finance the estimated $30 million project. Acquiring the stimulus money will relieve Payson citizens of up to one-third of possible future cost in increased property tax and/or water rates. It will be most unfortunate if these efforts go unrealized due to administrative bungling by the Phoenix office of the U.S. Forest Service and their one-year-plus delay for the approval to begin the required environmental study that the Town of Payson is willing to pay for. The result could be that the stimulus money may not be approved if the project is not deemed “shovel ready” due to this delay. It is our understanding that regardless of which federal agency, the U.S. Forest Service or the Bureau of Reclamation, has jurisdiction over this project, the environmental study is still required.
Perhaps the citizens of Payson should call or e-mail the Phoenix office of the U.S Forest Service requesting an explanation for their delay on this matter.
Jim Hippel, co-chair
Bill Michaelis, co-chair
Citizens Awareness Committee