Much has been written about the initiatives presently under way for bringing a university (ASU) to Payson and expanding the town’s water supply through the Blue Ridge project.
With the bad economy and loss of the previous level of housing construction in Payson, the population has decreased approximately 16 percent from 18,000 to 15,000.
The number of foreclosed and bank-owned homes are in the 300 range, and unemployment is in the 10 percent range. Vacant commercial storefronts are throughout the town.
It is anticipated that the university will provide jobs and economic activity through the construction of facilities, school staffing and spending by the students.
Commercial construction requires skill sets probably provided by out-of-town workers. The university will employ 200-plus workers with a required high level of educational and administrative skills, while student purchases will provide some economic activity.
Will the economic activity provided by the school replace the previous activity generated by the construction and real estate industries?
Will it significantly improve the real estate market, lower the unemployment rate and fill up the empty storefronts?
With 200-plus new jobs and up to 6,000 students it will raise Payson’s ongoing population to 21,200, a 41 percent increase!
What will be the impact of up to a projected 6,000 students buzzing around Payson in their sport cars on Payson’s poorly maintained streets and infrastructure?
Will the controversial issues arise including the extension of Mud Springs Road to Route 260 to provide access to South Beeline, or the extension of Sherwood Drive to Airport Road where land has been zoned for the someday building of 800-plus new homes?
Will the economic activity from the school generate sufficient tax revenue for the town to pay for street improvements to handle the increased traffic and personnel needed for law enforcement and other services?
Meanwhile, the school construction is anticipated to raise $7 million in impact fees to the town that could be used to help pay for the new Blue Ridge water supply. However, even with this revenue and grants, another $15-plus million will be needed to pay for the project which will result in higher water and tax rates for current and future residents.
Who will the candidates be for mayor and town council in next year’s election?
Candidates have only until mid-December to register. What will be their positions be on these issues? They will be involved in a history-making period for the town of Payson.
Lastly, with the implementation and growth resulting from the above actions, what will be the future quality of life for a resident of Payson? Will it be better or worse than it is today? You be the judge!