After hearing and reading about the bypass I can keep silent no longer. From what I have read and have heard, the only justification I hear about building a bypass is inconvenience on the part of some citizens on Friday afternoon and some holiday weekends in getting to the grocery, hardware or gas station because of the heavy traffic.
Below I will offer the reasons I think it would be one of the absolute worst decisions this community has ever made.
But before I do that, I want to offer an easier low-cost solution: on Friday afternoon between 3-6:30 p.m. and some holiday weekends between certain hours that traffic is heavy, just don’t go to the grocery, hardware store or fill up your tank with gasoline. Plan your purchases or take the side streets and it may take 15 extra minutes to do your errands.
I realize this is a simplistic solution but sometimes the simple solutions are the best ones.
Reasons I think this would be one of the absolute worst decisions Payson has ever made:
1. It would cost the Town of Payson large amounts of sales tax revenues. That will reduce revenues which will hinder the town’s budget and thereby reduce services to its citizens.
2. It will cost numerous businesses (restaurants, gas stations, grocery stores, antique stores, gift shops, coffee shops, tire stores, clothing stores, art galleries, chamber inquiries will fall dramatically, banks, beauty salons, liquor stores, candy shop, cocktail lounges, motels, convenience stores, movie theater, movie rental stores, mobile home parks, newspaper sales, auto repair shops, hardware stores (including Home Depot), I may have left some out, significant sales reductions.
If you don’t think the losses to these businesses would not be significant, just ask the owners. I have been in these businesses on weekends and holidays and they are absolutely jammed with tourists coming through our town. You need to see this for yourself.
Think about it this way, if we eliminate thousands of cars driving through, we eliminate thousands of chances for impulse buying by the drivers and their families.
This will mean a loss of sales to the business owners of Payson.
3. If No. 2 happens, many of our fellow citizens will be laid off due to no hours available due to less business. It is hard to find good jobs in our town now and we cannot afford to have all these tourists “bypass” our town.
4. If we have layoffs, who is going to work at the restaurants, gas stations, golf courses, etc.? Our labor pool will be reduced, even further encouraging our young people to move out of Payson as soon as they graduate. In addition, they will not have part-time job opportunities while attending high school.
5. Another reason not to have a bypass is this side benefit — if people continually drive through Payson for a number of years they are going to “see” that it is a nice place to live and sooner or later a good number of them will stop at the chamber for information. And they will start driving around looking at housing areas. It may not happen until some of them retire, but retirees are a large number of our citizens. If they don’t drive through, how will they know this is a great place to live?
6. If the traffic through town is vastly reduced (which will happen if there is a bypass) then we, as permanent residents of Payson, will have reduced choices of stores to shop at, thereby making it harder for us to fulfill our purchasing needs.
7. Lastly, there will be a smaller labor pool due to less workers and businesses like the hospital, nursing homes, medical clinics, motels, grocery stores and many, many other businesses will have a harder time recruiting thereby raising our labor costs which are already too high.
I absolutely urge that this initiative be dropped immediately and that the same effort be put into Main Street, festivals, marketing Payson and northern Gila County! The last thing we need is something that will funnel people away from our wonderful town.
Harvey Pelovsky, is the administrator at the Rim Country Health & Retirement Community in Payson.