The Rim Country Educational Alliance continues to work diligently on behalf of this community, struggling with the complexities of building a 6,000-student campus here. On Thursday, the Alliance board met in a closed, executive session to consider whether the 260-acre Forest Service parcel remains the best place for a campus and its various spin-off facilities.
We don’t know which way they’re headed — and that’s likely for the best. When you’re still playing poker, you’ve got to be careful about turning your cards face up.
Nonetheless, we wanted to express a little blind faith in their long, frustrating, vital efforts.
For the past four years, the selfless and dedicated supporters of this glittering vision have focused much of their effort on the Forest Service parcel between the Payson Ranger District and Rim Club Drive.
The site has formidable advantages, with lots of space for assorted spin-off businesses like a research park and a convention hotel, wooded, hilly terrain that will make the campus a soothing and creative place, relative ease of access and proximity to another 100 acres the Alliance wants to buy across the highway. Moreover, the project would put untaxed, forest land to work for the benefit of the community. As an added advantage, the Payson Ranger District would end up with enough money to build world-class facilities and a much-needed visitor center.
Despite all those advantages, the torturous federal land sale continues to delay and bedevil the process, imposing ever-mounting costs.
If the world made any sense, the federal government would have quickly given the parcel to the Alliance to benefit the taxpayers — who own the darn thing in the first place.
Alas, crooks like former Congressman Rick Renzi have forced the federal government to adopt rules and restrictions that have smothered the public good.
So we applaud the Alliance’s diligence and care — and willingness to consider other sites. Perhaps lower costs, quicker time tables and spin-off effects on adjacent areas will justify a shift.
We don’t envy the Alliance board the grave responsibility of making those hard choices. But we sure appreciate their dedication to this community.