Mayor’S Race Turns Nasty

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The fledgling Payson mayor’s race turned nasty this week, with a claim that Mayor Kenny Evans acted unethically and perhaps illegally in writing a letter to a wealthy friend assuring him he could put in a swimming pool if he complied with all town codes.

Mayoral candidate Randy Roberson presented no direct evidence of either ethical or legal misconduct in a long press release raising questions about the propriety of a letter Evans wrote to Fred Wagenhals in February in response to a question about building a pool.

Evans said he merely answered a question from a constituent and did nothing to bend the rules for Wagenhals.

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Randy Roberson

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Kenny Evans

The swirl of allegations and Evans’ response comes weeks after the town council agreed unanimously to lift a longstanding ban on building outdoor pools originally imposed to save water. The council cited the imminent arrival of water from the C.C. Cragin pipeline, but critics said the town should have waited until the town actually finished the pipeline in 2015 or 2016.

Roberson says Evans pushed the council to change the water conservation ordinance so Wagen­hals could sell his home in Chaparral Pines known as the Log Mahal. Wagenhals has contributed to many charitable causes in Payson and also was at one time a principal in a development group with an agreement to build a hoped-for university campus in Payson.

However, Evans said his letter merely informed Wagenhals he could build a swimming pool so long as he complied with all town codes and regulations. At the time Evans wrote the letter, Wagenhals would have had to build an indoor pool. By the time the man who eventually bought the house from Wagenhals applied for a permit to build a pool, the town council had changed the law to allow for indoor or outdoor pools.

For as long as anyone can remember, the town has banned swimming pools to protect the area’s limited water supply. At least that is what most everyone thought, including Evans, Vice Mayor Michael Hughes and several councilors.

Turns out, the code only explicitly barred outdoor pools. Town Attorney Tim Wright said anything other than an outdoor pool was therefore allowed, whether you call it a covered or indoor pool.

Wagenhals had reportedly been trying to sell his 14,000-square-foot home for four years. When he asked Evans last fall if he could build a swimming pool on the property as requested by a potential buyer, Evans said he replied, “No!”

“That is what I believed at the time (that all pools were banned),” he said.

Hughes also said he thought all pools were banned.

As it happens, the council had previously instructed Wright to review and update the town code. At a staff meeting at the beginning of the year, Evans asked about the restrictions on swimming pools. Staff said homeowners could build indoor pools, but not outdoor pools, which have a much higher evaporation rate, said Evans.

Surprised, Evans realized he had given Wagenhals incomplete information.

So on Feb. 19, Evans wrote Wagenhals — known as the “NASCAR Diecast mogul” on Wagenhals’ website — a letter on Town of Payson letterhead assuring him he could build a pool as long as it complied with all town construction and building codes.

Evans’ letter did not, however, discuss the difference between an indoor and an outdoor pool. He signed the letter and sent it to Wright, who signed off on it. Wagenhals later sold the home to Lou Laskis.

Roberson said it is suspicious that Evans did not in the letter tell Wagenhals he could only build an indoor pool, since the ordinance had not yet changed.

The council eliminated the ban on pools on April 17, but the change didn’t take effect until May 17.

Roberson believes Evans pressured the council to change the code solely so Wagenhals could sell his home to Laskis.

Because Evans wrote the letter two months before the issue came before the council, Roberson speculates Evans might have violated the open meeting law by talking to council members privately to push the change through.

“I found this information to be very disheartening as it raises the question of a violation of the open meeting law prior to Feb. 19 or if Mayor Evans feels such a sense of power over the six other council members that he was confident enough to write this letter before the issue was ever brought forward in a public council meeting,” said Charlene Creach Brown, a council candidate in a press release.

Evans denied all such accusations. He said he just sent the letter to correct bad information he had given Wagenhals. He said he frequently fields questions from the public and helps residents.

Evans’ response did not change Roberson’s mind.

“We aren’t pointing this out to defame anybody, but we are trying to point out that some things have been done (at town hall) that are not in the best interest of the public,” he said.

Roberson’s press release said of Evans’ letter, “the document begs the question, is this just unethical or is it a violation of law?”

Log Mahal pool

So was this infamous Log Mahal pool ever built? Not yet.

Around the same time the council allowed for all pool types, the council adjusted its impact fees. The water impact fee on a home dropped by about $1,000 to $6,592 for equivalent dwelling unit (EDU). Pools, spas and fountains count as one EDU per 30,000-gallon system. On May 30, Laskis’ builder applied for a building permit for a 13,460-gallon pool and spa valued at $30,000 at the Log Mahal, said Ray LaHaye, with the town-building department.

The plans have been reviewed and approved, but the builder had not picked up the permit. Given the pool is .45 an ERU, Laskis will have to pay a $3,400 impact fee as well as $300 permit fee. The impact fees will go into a fund to pay for the pipeline.

LaRon Garrett, Payson’s public works director, said several enclosed pools have been built in the past and owners always had to pay an impact fee based on the number of gallons the pool could hold. Hotels have built several indoor pools.

Election

Roberson said he and the other Voice of Rim Country candidates are planning to reveal more activities by the council and mayor they find unfavorable soon, hinting at the Tower Well. He said they are gathering information through Freedom of Information requests before they go public.

This is the first time in some time that multiple candidates have challenged incumbents. Evans is up for re-election as well as councilors Su Connell, Fred Carpenter and Ed Blair.

Besides Roberson and Brown, Lew Levenson, Greg Friestad, Bob Lockhart and Chris Higgins are running for their seats.

Comments

H. Wm. Rhea III 6 months ago

Hmm. So if you tell someone something that everyone knows is going to happen eventually, but hasn't happened yet, your in trouble. I guess only if you're running for office. So Roberson is trotting out this kind of crap against the incumbent candidate, mayor Evans - I guess that means he really doesn't have anything substantive to run on, huh? Has to dig up mud to get traction. Hey, maybe he can mix the Blue Ridge water with the dirt he's digging up, then he'll have more mud to sling against Mayor Evans.

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Meria Heller 6 months ago

Always two sets of laws in this country: one for the rich and powerful and one for the rest of us. If you want a pool why not live in Phoenix? Roberson has plenty to run on if you actually speak to him.

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H. Wm. Rhea III 6 months ago

Whether or not you are wealthy has nothing to do with it and is class baiting. When you read the article it points out that Mayor Evans told the wealthy man that he had to follow all of the rules and regs to get a pool. So class baiting or jealousy just because we can't afford a pool is a very poor reason to elect one person over another.

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Pat Randall 6 months ago

Roberson has lived in Payson for many years and knows what we need and don't need. I'm sure he knows we don't need to waste money and water by running Blue Ridge water down American Gulch or building waterfalls. He knows how long and hard Buzz Walker has worked to get water from Blue Ridge or anywhere to supply us with household water and business use.

He doesn't have to dig up dirt, and throw mud it is pretty obvious, with all that has been said and done. Of course there are a few people who have missed it or overlooked it.

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H. Wm. Rhea III 6 months ago

Regardless, of past experiences and intentions, this is mud slinging, pure and simple. You might not like the idea of the American Gulch being turned into a stream or building waterfalls, but that is not the issue in this article. The issue is that one candidate is alleging unethical behavior and even potential law breaking over a letter written by another candidate, to someone regarding compliance with the law.

That means that unless Roberson can actually prove true guilt, he trying to make Mayor Evans appear guilty by association with a rich man who wants to build a pool.

Until he can prove guilt, he's mud slinging and playing politics!

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Kim Chittick 6 months ago

Oh, Bill, Bill, Bill, I have to give you kudos for your undying devotion to Kenny. I am certain that he deeply appreciates your loyalty and support.

So, if this whole, Fred Wagenhals, Log Mahal, pool, Kenny, thing is so innocent, why did Fred go to Kenny? And why did Kenny not refer Fred to the building, or planning and zoning department? And why did Kenny feel that it was within his purview to tell Fred he could build a pool, based on something that had not yet been discussed or voted on by the council? You say, "So if you tell someone something that everyone knows is going to happen eventually, but hasn't happened yet, your(sp) in trouble.". "Something that everyone knows is going to happen eventually"? Really Bill? Pools have not been allowed in Payson for many years, and yet "everyone knows" it is going to be approved? So, Bill, exactly WHO is "everyone"? Because I have been in town nearly 20 years and I would have sworn that pools would NEVER be allowed in Payson. At this point in time, we just don't have the water resources to support pools.

Bottom line? Randy Roberson exposed an action by Kenny which was inappropriate, at the very minimum. It was NOT within Kenny's rights, responsibilities, or job description, to tell someone, ANYONE, that they could build a pool in Payson. That is why the town has a building department, planning and zoning department, et al. To ensure across the board compliance by ALL with ALL regulations. The fact of the matter is, that Fred likely hoped to get "back door" approval to build his pool; and that is exactly what he got. I am certain that Kenny assured Fred that he would handle any resistance to the building of a pool.

As for your allegations of mud slinging, the only mud slinging that I know of Randy Roberson doing is when he is off in some third world country doing disaster relief work. As for your "class baiting" comment...really Bill?? Did you really infer that Kenny and Fred are so much above the rest of us "po'folk" who "can't afford a pool". Not hardly buddy boy, class is not about money

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H. Wm. Rhea III 6 months ago

Kim, do I call you Dim Witted instead of Kim Chittick? My name is Will. And I see a whole lot of talk from you and others about rich people and "po'folk" who "can't afford a pool" (I can't either but I'm not angry just because someone else can) and talk about Kenny Evans, but the truth is that you're just griping and have no leg to stand on when it comes to this article's point.

I am not saying that Mr. Roberson hasn't done some good things. Truth is, I don't know him or his past, and I don't care. He is associating an opponent with wrong doing when there is no proof of it. And I would call anyone on the carpet for it, no just Mr. Roberson. And I would think that you of all people, given your work with battered women, would more appreciate truth than hearsay and innuendo from a political candidate.

If Mr. Roberson has PROOF, then let it come forth. The article says he's looking for it, so if he finds proof, then we can talk about that. But right now, it's dirty politics.

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H. Wm. Rhea III 6 months ago

Kim Chittick wrote:

"Randy Roberson exposed an action by Kenny which was inappropriate, at the very minimum. It was NOT within Kenny's rights, responsibilities, or job description, to tell someone, ANYONE, that they could build a pool in Payson. That is why the town has a building department, planning and zoning department, et al. To ensure across the board compliance by ALL with ALL regulations. The fact of the matter is, that Fred likely hoped to get "back door" approval to build his pool; and that is exactly what he got. I am certain that Kenny assured Fred that he would handle any resistance to the building of a pool."

When I first moved to Payson and met Kenny Evans, I asked him if it was true that a university was going to be built here. He answered in the affirmative. Was he wrong to answer a constituent? By your logic Kim, he should've told me that he couldn't talk about it and to ask someone else?

If you read the article, you would know he was asked by Fred Wagenhals (whom I don't know) about building a pool and when the Mayor found out that he had given the wrong info, wrote to Fred Wagenhals to correct what he said. There is NOTHING inappropriate about that. In fact, I appreciate having a mayor that will answer questions directly, even when something is just his personal opinion.

You talk about Inappropriate Kim. Let me layout in inappropriate for you. Inappropriate is trying to make something out of nothing. Inappropriate is casting aspersions of misconduct when there is no proof of it and trying to ruin a good man's character. Inappropriate is accusing someone of bending the rules for someone else because they have money or power (and it smacks of envy), when there is no proof of it. In short Kim, you're speaking in a very Inappropriate manner.

As for your being certain, you might want to have proof before espousing your opinion and beating someone over the head with it, as if it was a fact - you're bearing false witness.

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Kim Chittick 6 months ago

BILL, the first time that I interacted with you here, I called you MR. RHEA, you returned my courtesy by calling me Kim, rather than Mrs. Chittick. Get my point? Respect and courtesy, beget respect and courtesy. As for calling me dim witted, REALLY Bill?? Is that the strongest you got? That borders on slander and frankly it is about the most pathetic thing you could have said. (By the way, one of the first rules of conduct on this board states, NO NAME CALLING. Hmmm, "dim witted" is about the most heinous name calling gets. Knock it off, we are ALL above that, oh, and talk about mud slinging!! Grow up!! Stop acting like a school yard bully!!)) Furthermore, you, Kenny, nor anybody else has the SLIGHTEST CLUE what I can and cannot afford, and whether or not I can afford a pool. When I know of people who are my friends, right here in the Rim Country who have days in the Summer with no water coming out of their pipes, and others whose well has already gone dry THIS year and now have to spend thousands of dollars to have it dug deeper, why on EARTH would I be so unselfish as to think only of myself to want a private pool, just because I can afford it?

As to Mr. Roberson's truth, just be patient honey!!! And I am not simply against Kenny because I am FOR Randy, I am against Kenny, because Kenny is far too arrogant and misogynistic for my liking. I personally have met, exchanged names, pleasantries and a handshake with Kenny, on at least 3 occasions, and still when he sees me, he looks right through me as if I don't exist. Now, I am not trying to be conceited here, but, I am pretty memorable, I am very short, under 5 feet tall, rather bosomy, have lots of blonde hair, and I have a speech defect, but am still very outspoken. Kinda hard to forget, and yet King Kenny has judged me and found me not necessary to remember, or acknowledge. I have watched Kenny interact while out in public, and by his actions, body language and verbiage, he has little respect or regard for women, and even less for people who he has deemed are not in his economic strata.

Finally, Will, I posed several very serious and very real questions in my last post, and yet, not one of them was addressed or even excused. WHY did Fred know that he could go through Kenny without following proper channels like everybody else? WHY did Kenny not refer Fred to the appropriate Town department for his query? WHY did Kenny feel that he could unilaterally tell Fred that he could build a pool months before the Council had addressed the issue? WHY and WHO are those who knew that it was "going to be happen eventually"? Now, these questions are not about slinging mud, but about truly and genuinely wanting answers. I love Payson, and while I was not born here, I do intend to die here. Thing is? I want to die of old age, not dehydration.

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Kim Chittick 6 months ago

Oh Bill, to answer one question, and then I am going to bed, as I grow weary of all of this nonsense tonight!

Everything I have posited has been just that, my opinion, I have stated nothing as fact, simply my opinion. The one answer? IT IS MY OPINION that King Kenny jumped the gun by assuring you that a university was going to be built here. Was the property agreement already in place? Was there an agreement with ASU to build a campus here? Was all of the millions of dollars that would be needed to build and get a university up and running already in an account? No need to answer honey, I already know all of these answers!

Lastly, please, oh please, do NOT start throwing biblical references around (you're bearing false witness), that is just far too supercilious, even for you!!

Night, night Billy.

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H. Wm. Rhea III 6 months ago

Kim Chittick wrote:

And I am not simply against Kenny because I am FOR Randy, I am against Kenny, because Kenny is far too arrogant and misogynistic for my liking. I personally have met, exchanged names, pleasantries and a handshake with Kenny, on at least 3 occasions, and still when he sees me, he looks right through me as if I don't exist. Now, I am not trying to be conceited here, but, I am pretty memorable, I am very short, under 5 feet tall, rather bosomy, have lots of blonde hair, and I have a speech defect, but am still very outspoken. Kinda hard to forget, and yet King Kenny has judged me and found me not necessary to remember, or acknowledge. I have watched Kenny interact while out in public, and by his actions, body language and verbiage, he has little respect or regard for women, and even less for people who he has deemed are not in his economic strata.

So let me get this straight, you feel slighted because you think someone isn't giving you the time and respect that you feel you deserve? Talk about arrogant and misogynistic.

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Kim Chittick 6 months ago

Ahh, Bill, of course you would turn it back on me, because, of course, your precious Kenny can do no wrong!!

Time and respect have nothing whatsoever to do with it. I could not care less whether King Kenny respects me or not. His opinion is of zero consequence to me. What I do care about, is that as the Mayor of this town, he has a responsibility to interact with and remember as many of his constituents as possible, not just the ones whom he deems valuable.

I will remind you of yet another of this boards mandates, personal attacks against other posters will not be tolerated. So, that being said, shall we stop slinging arrows at one another and once again address the issues at hand?

Quite simply, what I would like is a logical and reasonable answer to the questions which I have posed:

WHY did Fred know that he could go through Kenny without following proper channels like everybody else?

WHY did Kenny not refer Fred to the appropriate Town department for his query?

WHY did Kenny feel that he could unilaterally tell Fred that he could build a pool months before the Council had addressed the issue?

WHY and WHO are those who knew that it was "going to be happen eventually"?

I really don't believe that wanting the answers to these questions is unreasonable. It is NOT Kenny's water to do with as he chooses, nor is it his TOWN to do with as he chooses. This is a small town within the borders of the United States of America, NOT a monarchy where the king decrees all.

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H. Wm. Rhea III 6 months ago

The issue is simple. The claim made by Mr. Roberson is unsupported. Even the Roundup acknowledges that in an editorial. See http://www.paysonroundup.com/news/201....

Yet you keep calling Mayor Evans, "King Kenny" and trying to make something where nothing exists, at least not right now - if ever.

Just so that you know, I, along with most people know that the water rules will change with the Blue Ridge water, most likely allowing outdoor pools and even grassy front yards for Pat Randall.

If I had a question and I knew the Mayor (and I do) I too would go to him for clarification. I did it back in Idaho and I would do it wherever I lived. So you're making something out of nothing. And if you read the posts above, you made it personal first, with the mocking attitude of my name. If you keep it civil, so will I.

Wanting answers is one thing, but you were making accusations and you were "certain" about them. So if you really want answers, write an open letter to the editor and perhaps someone will answer it. Or go to a City Council meeting and get on the agenda and speak your peace. But keep your baseless accusations to yourself unless or until you can prove them.

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Kim Chittick 6 months ago

Yet again, another reply with still no acknowledgement of the very basic and simple questions that I would like answers for. I am going to address your comment sequentially.

You say "Even the Roundup acknowledges that in an editorial." Good grief, we all know by now that the Roundup is not unbiased, as clearly evidenced by previous editorials. By the way, I have been warned by more than one person that I'd "best watch what I say for fear of getting kicked off the Board". I have been very careful to not make personal attacks, or name call. The Mayor is a different entity as he chose to be in the public limelight. As a matter of fact, he paid big bucks to ensure that he got to be in the limelight, therefore, in accordance with the law, he is not protected.

You seem to have a problem with me calling him King Kenny. Oh my gosh Will, are you sticking up for your little friend? I can, and will, call him anything I want and at this point in time, King Kenny fits, so that is how I shall refer to him, whether you please or not.

Regarding water rules changing...when the Blue Ridge water is here, and we have an unlimited, unending, ceaseless supply of clear blue perfect water, I could not care less if you want to cover your house in grass and water it 24/7/365, and build a swimming pool to rival the Pacific Ocean. However, until such time as that unending supply is gushing through the pipes of Payson, it is my considered opinion that water conservation should still be the norm, and frivolously allowing some rich people who may be in their home a few days a month to build a swimming pool "simply because they want one" is selfish, self-centered, and a grievous waste of natural resources.

continued

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Kim Chittick 6 months ago

continued

I am going to go out of order here a bit. You say " And if you read the posts above, you made it personal first, with the mocking attitude of my name." The name that is listed for your posts is H. Wm. Rhea lll. Correct? Well, the common nickname for Wm. is Bill, even you must admit that Will is the more uncommon usage. Above, I simply referred to you as Bill. Now, if you look above, you will note that you are the one that came back with an abominably immature and appalling reply by asking if you call me "Dim Witted" (clearly you thought that you were being very witty and bright by making such an intelligent play on my name!! So very junior high boyish!!) So, as for keeping it civil, I believe that I suggested that in my previous post, " So, that being said, shall we stop slinging arrows at one another and once again address the issues at hand?" Shall we work on that, hmmmm? Perhaps you should change your posting name to that which you wish to be called. I believe that elsewhere on this board, I called you Mr. Rhea, and you rewarded that courtesy by referring to me by my first name. Not very respectful Will.

I am also going to address something that you mentioned previously, you said, "So let me get this straight, you feel slighted because you think someone isn't giving you the time and respect that you feel you deserve? Talk about arrogant and misogynistic." I am going to add a question to my growing list for you, Will. Clearly, you think there is nothing wrong with the fact that Kenny completely disregards an entire segment of the voting public, and yet another segment of those whom he deems not relevant. Even though I have personally met, chatted with and shaken hands with him ( and been warned to be gentle as I have a firm handshake and I was warned to not shake his wounded hand too firmly) and he also is well aware of my connection to a local non-profit, as well as my connection with a prominent luxury car club here in town, he looks right through me as though I don't exist, and yet, by Kenny's own account, he had a casual conversation several months previous with Fred about swimming pools, and months later, he remembers that, "ohmigosh, I gave Fred Wagenhals incorrect information, and I must set him straight immediately!!" Now, I ask you, what made Fred $o memorable to Kenny??

Finally, you say, "But keep your baseless accusations to yourself unless or until you can prove them." Oh, Will, Will, Will, I am simply positing questions. Are you threatening me? Should there have been an "or else" on the end of that statement? Silly, silly Will!!! You clearly don't know me!!

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H. Wm. Rhea III 6 months ago

Kim, this will be my last post on the subject. But from your posts above it sounds like you've gotten your feelings hurt and are easily offended. Only God and time can help with that, and I hope that you get both. I am somewhat new to Payson, only been here 2½ years, but I am aware of some of your good work in the community and I know that you'll keep it up, but if you want answers to questions then you're going to have to ask the right people and that isn't me or this comment board. But it sounds like you have your mind made up already.

Kenny Evans is a good man. I'm told that Mr. Roberson is a good man, but these accusations aren't becoming of good people.

Have a good evening, Kim.

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Kim Chittick 6 months ago

Oh, I am so relieved that you are finally going to stop; especially since you have still not provided any explanation as to why you so unilaterally support Kenny. I would welcome a strong factual provable argument that Kenny is such a laudable human being. In my research and reading, that has not been proven. Kenny assured the voters that he was only going to be a "one term Mayor", and yet, he is running for Mayor again. so much for him being a man of his word.

As for me getting my feelings hurt, oh dear Will, are you being all sensitive now?? Your assertion could not be further from the truth. As I said previously, Kenny's recognition of me is of zero consequence, I simply mentioned it as a way of illustrating how Kenny views, judges, and disregards people.

I will say that I appreciate your kind words about my work in the community; although my volunteer work is not for recognition or accolades;. As a matter of fact, it is for a much more selfish reason, I volunteer because it makes my heart happy to help those who are unable to help themselves.

Blessings on you Will!!

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mike wicks 5 months, 4 weeks ago

Mr Rhea and Mrs Chittick I have first hand experience with the whole pool ordeal as I tried to put one in I went the building dept. and was told no unless the water dept. signed off on it, I went to the water dept. with a plan to build and maintain a pool with out any town water and a zero evaporation cover, the answer no so I went to speak with our mayor (Mr Evans) his answer no the town can not and will not allow pools. Its not a matter of being a good person or not, its matter of commitment to all of Paysons residence,
Yes I would have liked to have the pool to teach Scuba from however our town leaders explain how it was not good for our town. So any body please explain the to why pools are good idea

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Pat Randall 5 months, 4 weeks ago

Prestige (: Look it up on Wikipedia and MerriaM-Webster Online. Teaching Scuba would be a good thing. If someone really wants a pool for swimming go to the Town pool at Rumsey, or the pool on the Reservation.

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don evans 5 months, 3 weeks ago

A "opinion answer" as to why the change in Payson swim pool policy? You are all probably aware of the proposed ASU? college campus scheme being drummed in town. Some college anyway. Well, part of that plan is somehow connected to a possible close by the new campus, Marriot Hotel/Resort development proposal. The kicker was the swim pool embargo in place by the town. Marriot would not commit to building a Payson area "resort hotel" tied to the college project that has no swim pool. Now that roadblock has been removed for them and others. Such as the near future possible Hampton Inn on the vacant property next to Walgreens on Longhorn Rd. Payson Impact fee money is no object for these large company developments. As for the, we are saved forever Cragin pipeline deal, I might suggest you drive up to the reservoir and look at the current water level. Yes, it can fluctuate, but give me a break. See for yourself.

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