We Need To Spruce Up Our Image



There was a house fire on Rancho Road several months ago. I don’t recall the exact date, but it happened within a day of the fatal shooting on Rancho Road.

The house that burned looks no different today than the day after the fire. Siding torn from the structure, insulation and other debris litter the property. Crime scene tape still drapes the perimeter.

Am I the only person that finds this strange? Why hasn’t the property been cleaned up and broken windows boarded up? Who is responsible? Does our town have no compliance regulations or codes that could be enforced?

This is just one of many properties in this town whose exteriors look like junkyards. It comes as no surprise to me that Arizona State University is dragging its feet as regards to building a college here.

If their representatives were to drive around town (and I’m sure they have), they couldn’t help but leave being unfavorably impressed.

We do not look like a college town. Perhaps the people who own these properties would prefer that a college not be here.

If anyone feels that this is not an issue, just take an hour or so and drive up and down the streets. Be sure to drive on the streets that are next to or very close to all our schools. It is quite frankly, embarrassing.

If we ever hope to land big businesses and higher education, we need to spruce up our image.

Jeff Murphy


Pat Randall 2 years, 11 months ago

Why not start with the junk yard on McLane that can be seen coming into Payson? Veterans helping Veterans property on Colcord? The house on the corner is not the only property that the woman owns. All the junk trailers to the north of it are on her property unless she has sold it. The trailer where the man committed suicide under the bed is still surrounded with junk. Ammon storage trailers and cargo bin on Main are an eyesore to. There is an ordinance nothing can be parked or stored on vacant lots. Where are the enforcers of all the ordinances the town has?


Kim Chittick 2 years, 11 months ago

Mr. Murphy, a few years ago, the house next door to us burned down. It took nearly 6 months for the homeowners to go through the channels to have the property cleared. 6 months of a burned out, hulking dump, reeking any time it was damp, or rained, or snowed. 6 months of hearing kids trying to climb the fence to loot the house. 6 months of not inviting company to visit because the view of next door was just so hideous. 6 months that covered Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, and Valentines Day.

We learned from the Fire Marshall, Robert Lockhart, that Town Code allows for 3 months, then the town "is supposed to start sending notices to the property owner to have the lot cleared, or fines will start being levied". Mr. Lockhart is a kind and generous man, and was definitely sympathetic to our complaints; so was in frequent contact with the property owner to try to get them to take action. However, the property owners were lackadaisical, and overall unconcerned with how it affected those of us subjected to the daily sight of the burned out hulk of a house. Please understand, I was not without sympathy or empathy. But, 6 months of worrying about a kid gaining access to the remainder of the structure and having it collapse or worse, and smelling that horrible odor anytime we stepped outside, and seeing that burned out pile each time we drove down our street or stepped outside, was pushing the outer limits of patience and neighborliness. Finally, the bulldozer came!!! Imagine our dismay to be told by the man clearing the lot that they had found "several boxes" of live ammo in the pile of rubble, in what had once been the home's living room, and was less than 25 feet from my bedroom!!!

Mr. Murphy, my recommendation to you is...complain!!! Loudly, and frequently!! To the Building and Zoning Department, they are in the building directly west across the parking lot from the Police Department. Contact the Mayor, call all of the Council Members. since they decided that Payson no longer needs a Fire Marshall to handle stuff like this, let them do it.


Kim Chittick 2 years, 11 months ago

Hmmmm, my narrative makes it sound as though we were cold, unfeeling, unsympathetic people; without a care for the fact that they had lost everything they owned. .

That could not be further from the truth..

The fact is, I was home alone on a mid-week day, when I heard a loud popping noise from next door. Going to look out the window into their carport, I noticed flames leaping from an air compressor. I ran down the hall, through the kitchen, grabbing the cordless phone as I ran. I quickly dialed 911, as I ran next door, on bare feet through the gravel. The woman who lived in the house had a chronic illness which made walking difficult and unsteady for her. There were several steps that lead to ground level from their front door, and I doubted that she could make it down them on her own. Fortunately another neighbor was there to help me get the woman into the middle of the street and away from the flames. As the flames spread very quickly, I frantically called 911 again, watching the flames lick at the pine trees surrounding our property, sending a column of smoke skyward that could be seen clear to the other end of town. The other neighbor and I had to physically restrain the ill woman, as she tried to break away and run to get her vehicle which was already in flames. I had no desire to chase after her into the flames.

We managed to get the ill woman into the house of another neighbor, just as the fire trucks arrived. I watched helplessly as the heat of the flames bubbled, blistered, and scorched the paint on the house on the other side of them. And I watched trees and plants on our property wilt and shrivel from the heat. I watched firefighters scramble through my property, hanging over the fence to prop their fire hoses, trampling plants and bushes. I saw things pop and explode, sending debris flying against my house, onto my roof and breaking a dual paned window in my office. For the most part I obeyed an order from the firefighters to not go into my house. However, I was standing out there in bare feet, wearing “work around the house grubbies”, and without my cell phone which had all of my contact numbers in it. I dashed up my driveway to just inside my front door, where I grabbed a pair of shoes, and my purse with my phone. Continued…


Kim Chittick 2 years, 11 months ago

…continued As our homes back up to an alley, the lookie loo’s were climbing over my 6 foot wall into my backyard. I was concerned about safety and looting, but was unable to do anything, other than order them off my property and back over the wall. Fortunately there were firefighters in the alley fighting the fire from that direction, so there were also Police. I asked them to ensure that nobody but emergency personnel came over my wall. I went back to the neighbor’s house where the ill woman was secured and safe. As I arrived, she was in the middle of a cell phone call with her husband who was at the bottom of the cul de sac attempting to gain access. The police had the road completely blocked off and were not allowing anybody access. I walked to the other end of the cul de sac and spoke with the Officer down there, telling him that the man was the homeowner and the woman’s husband. They eventually allowed him access. I was finally able to get hold of my husband who was in Tucson, and he managed to make it home within a couple of hours, while the firefighters were still mopping up, and the Fire Marshall was poking around the debris. It was eventually determined that the air compressor had been left on for several hours, and the automatic shut-off had failed, leaving the compressor to continue running and eventually overheat, which ignited half empty aerosol cans which had been left sitting on and around the compressor. These aerosol cans are what was exploding and shooting all over the place, and which shot across to break my office window. Eventually, a Firefighter asked to do a walk-through of my house to ensure that there was no damage inside; which is when we discovered the broken window and that by the grace of God, both panes had not broken, thereby not allowing the red hot can bottom to land on my carpet in a room filled with electronics, as well as years of work. …continued


Kim Chittick 2 years, 11 months ago

Continued… The Firefighters finished up, leaving the Fire Marshall. Within a few hours, the crews arrived at the request of the Fire Marshall to erect a temporary and very flimsy chain link fence around the property. The house was not in any way, shape or farm, habitable. Although, there were a couple of support beams still standing. It was, quite simply, a big, dangerous, burned out, stinky, smelly, pile of rubble. The Fire Marshall informed us that in accordance with town code, the property owner would have 90 days to clear the lot; which would have put it at right around Christmas. Over the course of the next couple of months, my husband chased away several teens trying to gain access to the property. We would call the Police and let them know what was going on. The Police would then contact the property owner, who would come by and get angry with us for calling the Police. Halloween came and with it came teens still trying to climb the fence to gain access to the rubble. However, we no longer chased them away or called the Police. Lack of appreciation and/or gratitude will do that. Well as well as being tremendously cussed out in front of the Police!! Thanksgiving came and went, the rain and snows came and left our neighborhood with an overlying stench of burned, rotting wood, building materials and household belongings, as well as a very dismal view at the top of our cul de sac. Still, no work had been begun on clearing the lot. Occasionally, the male homeowner would come by, wander the lot aimlessly and leave. We had heard that the property owners were considering not rebuilding, so the next time the male came by, my husband approached him and offered to buy the lot for a very fair price; at which point, this man whom had been the beneficiary of a great deal of largesse from my husband and I, actually snarled and said that he would give the land away before he would sell to us. Truly, to this day, we’ve no idea where the enmity came from. Finally, late February, the bulldozer arrived!!! Hallelujah!! They started clearing debris and rubble by hand first; which is when the bulldozer operator, came up with several charred boxes. He had a look of stunned shock on his face and informed my husband that there was a large stockpile of ammo/bullets piled in the corner of what had been the living room, and was less than 50 feet from my house! It took a few days for the lot to be cleared; whereupon, the neighborhood then had to deal with the joy of a double wide mobile home being placed very awkwardly on the lot. At no point in time were any of the neighbors apologized to, or compensated for the damage to our homes from the fire, nor were we thanked for our help. In conclusion, Mr. Murphy…complain, frequently, loudly, and vociferously to Planning and Zoning to get that lot cleared. A burned out hulk attracts looters, predators, and animals. It detracts from your enjoyment of your property, and tremendously reduces property values.


Meria Heller 2 years, 11 months ago

lost income in fines as well. Fire season will arrive and these trash bins are just terrible.


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