Grumbles Again

Advertisement

Wow.

Grumbling about growth.

How wonderful.

We can remember when worries about growth preoccupied residents. Remember the extension of Mud Springs Road? Remember growth restrictions? Remember squabbles about the design review board and the sign ordinance?

Then came the Great Recession.

The housing market collapsed, sales slumped, the population shrank, the school district started laying off teachers, Payson quit maintaining its streets, the ranks of the police force dwindled.

We’ve spent the last four years hanging on by our cracked and bleeding fingernails, all of us caught in a grim little game of Survivor.

But finally, the scrawny little worm has turned.

The developers of the Timber Ridge Subdivision behind Walmart recently unveiled plans to build 150 new homes. Please note, before the recession builders added 200 to 300 homes annually to our housing stock. Since the onset of the recession, it’s more like 10 or 20.

The developers presented their plans to neighbors recently and heard a flurry of concerns, mostly about traffic. The town wants the developers to make Rumsey Drive a through street that will provide a back door to Walmart. The town’s traffic circulation plan also calls for the extension Forest Park Drive. Residents worry that a lot more cars will now zip through their neighborhood in addition to the 1,400 daily traffic trips the residents of the 150 homes will eventually generate.

We certainly understand such concerns — we all love our quiet, forested residential neighborhoods. The peaceful streets off the highway remain one of Payson’s great lures. So we’re glad residents are expressing their concerns clearly and quickly — and trust the town and the developers will work together to minimize the impact of the new development.

The busy Memorial Day weekend signaled the start of the tourist season — a time of plenty when it comes to sales tax receipts. But many other portents suggest that our long time in the economic wilderness will soon come to an end. The Forest Service land sale for the university is finally moving forward. The building permit office down at town hall has gotten busy. Developers have shown up with preliminary plans for some 600 homes in three subdivisions. The Blue Ridge pipeline is under construction and the Tonto Apache Tribe seems near a major water settlement, which will benefit both the town and the tribe.

So we finally get to switch from worrying whether we’ll survive economically, to grumbling about growth.

How wonderful.

Comments

Pat Randall 6 months, 3 weeks ago

Rumsey Drive and the subdivision were supposed to be done over 5 years ago. I think the plans and street had already been approved. Then the housing slump started. Be grateful people will have jobs. What makes the neighbors there think they are so special no one else should move in?

If I had my way Payson would be the way it was when I married and moved away in 1952. How about that? Where would all you grumblers be? No robberies, no killings, few car accidents. No one felt the need to keep every thing locked up. Slept outside during the summer. Every one looked after their neighbors. No fighting over parks, streets, or anything else. Dance every Sat. night. One fire truck. Two deputies, A Forest service ranger with one helper. What a change when we moved back in 1993.

Oh, where did the good times go?

0

Pat Randall 6 months, 3 weeks ago

As for Payson not maintaining the streets they have been using that money to work on the event center. Take a drive out there and see where all the equipment has been working and the surfacing they have laid down on the hill side for parking. That could have been used on the streets. There is still a large pile of surfacing material they haven't used. Who cares about working on the streets in the traffic when they can be at the event center with no one watching. I am waiting for the parks dept. to start planting grass any day.

0

Meria Heller 6 months, 3 weeks ago

What Payson needs like the rest of the country is JOBS, not more homes. There are tons for sale already. You can't stop builders, but how many people have left Payson the past few years due to no jobs? Where are the businesses and stores these new people will work at? Walmart? Extending Forest Park? it has no sidewalks and children walk home from school in the middle of the street. How many more cars will be speeding through the stop signs? Surely the 87 and Rumsey exits to their homes is more than enough. Where are the sidewalks, bike lanes in town? Why not just give them a free shuttle to Walmart?(sarcasm). Why such high density per acre? Sure they'll save the trees, just like they saved the desert in Phoenix...

0

Pat Randall 6 months, 3 weeks ago

Meria, Most of the people that left worked in the home construction business. Concrete finishers, carpenters, dry wall installers, electricians, plumbers, roofers, painters, laborers to dig footing ditches, carpet layers and I can't remember the rest of the trades. Hopefully there will be some trees and under brush removed. Have you ever seen a forest fire up close? My grandson is a contractor and am sure he is thrilled at more housing starts. He won't have to drive to New Mexico to work.
If you don't like Payson and what is going on, there is a road leaving town in 3 directions.

0

Meria Heller 6 months, 3 weeks ago

you're note was great until the last sentence. Why did it turn nasty? I'm tired of people saying "if you don't like it leave". Pretty childish.

0

Heather Dotson 6 months, 3 weeks ago

My husband is a framer, so more construction going on is good for us. But I wonder, like Meria, where the people that buy those houses are going to work? As far as the current residents complaining about traffic, that's the price of growth. Hell, I live on a dead end street, you'd be surprised at how many cars go past my house on any given day.

1

Meria Heller 6 months, 3 weeks ago

Heather, that was my point. Not the building of the homes, but services for those who buy them, including jobs. Thanks for getting it.

0

Pat Randall 6 months, 3 weeks ago

Meria, I was not being nasty just stating a fact. I was away from Payson for 42 years. Did not like the places I lived so I came back to Payson.

What services do you need that isn't here?

1

Meria Heller 6 months, 3 weeks ago

Pat like email, typing here is flat without any human expression so it's easy to misunderstand. What I go to the valley for: shopping, real restaurants with great food, dentists that don't charge a fortune for starters. Nightlife? there is none here. Used to be the Casino used to have shows, but that's gone too. Very few events left here. yet, hundreds more homes to come? What will they do? where will they shop (please don't say walmart), dine, work, etc? the 87 is fast food heaven for those driving through. This town could be much more if it were utilized better. How about Green Valley Lake? A beautiful park without anything happening except the concerts in the summer. Main street is dead. I find it very sad. Of course I'm not a youngster, but if I were what would I do here? Job wise? Fun-wise? We don't even have a mall to stroll through. For most I guess Walmart does the trick but not for me. I can't imagine what you've seen since you were here in the 50's.

0

Kim Chittick 6 months, 3 weeks ago

Last week, we were at Bison Ranch in Heber-Overgaard for a car show. If you've not been to Bison Ranch, it is worth the trip. Great shops, a couple of fun places to eat, hotel rooms, conference/meeting rooms, a lovely green with an adorable gazebo centering it.

Which all leads me to this question: What prompted the developer to bring Bison Ranch to Heber-Overgaard instead of Payson?

I spoke with several people with businesses there who would have far preferred to open in Payson. Closer to the Valley, easier access, more moderate temperatures for businesses to be open year round.

I also know of several groups from the Valley who hold conferences, retreats, meetings, etc. at Bison Ranch, but would prefer to not have to go that far. Who would love to be able to hold their events in Payson. I personally have even been contacted by event planners in the Valley for suggestions for a place to hold Church retreats. I have always had to tell them to try Bison Ranch.

20 years ago, when I moved here, I volunteered at the Chamber of Commerce. One event that I volunteered for and loved, was manning the booth and representing Payson at the Home Show at Phoenix Convention Center. I handed out information packets, and answered questions about my new found and much loved home. Seems as though the Chamber no longer is promoting tourism or re-locating for Payson. Why is that??

1

Meria Heller 6 months, 3 weeks ago

thanks for the tip! I'll check it out for sure! Used to have property in Heber when there was nothing there. From all the business owners I've talked to in town, Payson makes it VERY hard for a business to open here and their "sign" rules alone are enough to make them sick. Many a decent business that wanted to open here was discouraged by impact fees, etc so they went elsewhere. We've lost a lot of "what could have been" in exchange for fast food crap. Time for a change in leadership for sure.

0

Nancy Volz 6 months, 3 weeks ago

If I recall correctly, and this ol' brain may not, the developer of Bison Ranch was involved in development in Payson, but got caught up in the downturn. The condos by Town Hall were his, I think???

0

Kim Chittick 6 months, 3 weeks ago

That is correct Nancy!! I would REALLY love the opportunity to chat with that developer and get some of their feelings on what Payson is doing wrong in terms of bringing development to Payson. I am fearful that Payson is going to end up a ghost town if some things don't change, and soon!!

1

Ronald Hamric 6 months, 2 weeks ago

I know this isn't going to sit well with those who think Payson is dyeing on the vine. I sense that it will do just fine. The demand for jobs reminds me of a letter to the editor a decade or so ago from a gentleman from the mid-West who loaded up his family in the station wagon and proceeded to find somewhere "out West" that was more family friendly and hospitable job-wise. When they arrived in Payson they felt it would be a very wonderful place to raise their kids, so they settled in. Shortly the man found out that their simply were no jobs available that met his background, and was complaining that the "city" should take steps to attract industry to Payson so that he could work and live there. I was then, and am now, dumbfounded by those that make a conscious decision to locate to a town without determining if that town actually provides those things they want/need in order to enjoy their idea of "the good life". In essence it is the, "I really like this area, but we really do need to make some major, fundamental changes here cause it simply is not what I want or need". Question. Then why the hell did you choose to move here in the first place?? The very "character" of this area must have had some attraction to you and led you to want to move here. Then why in the world would you want to turn it into the very type of place you ran from?

I'll repeat what I said all those many years ago to the then editor Richard Haddad. Anyone who doesn't live with blinders on could easily ascertain that Payson and the surrounding area is primarily a destination for folks who have had enough with the "Big City" garbage and want to live out their final years in some place more rural, slow paced, and yes, sort of "backwards". In other words, a retirement oriented town. And if ANY business person does not do an adequate business plan and determine the customer demographic of Payson before setting up shop there, then they deserve to lose their shirt. Just ask the gentleman who thought Batting Cages would be a great business for that town. We all saw how well that worked out, and rightfully so. Good intentions, bad business decision!

0

Ronald Hamric 6 months, 2 weeks ago

"What I go to the valley for: shopping, real restaurants with great food, dentists that don't charge a fortune for starters. Nightlife? there is none here. Used to be the Casino used to have shows, but that's gone too. Very few events left here. yet, hundreds more homes to come? What will they do? where will they shop (please don't say walmart), dine, work, etc? the 87 is fast food heaven for those driving through. This town could be much more if it were utilized better. How about Green Valley Lake? A beautiful park without anything happening except the concerts in the summer. Main street is dead. I find it very sad. Of course I'm not a youngster, but if I were what would I do here? Job wise? Fun-wise? We don't even have a mall to stroll through. For most I guess Walmart does the trick but not for me." Meria Heller

This lady makes my case even better than I could. One really has to scratch their head in puzzlement as to why she moved to this area to begin with. Will we never see the end to folks moving away from conditions they no longer enjoy, only to turn their "ideal" place into the very image of where they left? "Oh! This is such a beautiful area, BUT, we really are going to have to make some significant changes to the character here as it is missing so many of the things I like/need." Then simply wait and it will morph into the very crap hole you and so many others moved from and for all the same reasons. It's rural America folks, accept that, and all the differences/short comings that portends. If it doesn't meet your needs, than as Pat Randall has said so many times, the highways leading "TO" Payson, will also take you back to the place you left. Sorry, but I guess I am "being childish" for being so factually blunt.

0

Kim Chittick 6 months, 2 weeks ago

No, not childish, however, perhaps a bit uninformed. When I moved here 20 years ago from Southern California, I thought I was in Heaven. No traffic, no smog, nice people, a really cool, quaint little town. Nearly every weekend, there was some type of festival or something going on. I volunteered with the Chamber of Commerce and the Chamber was very active in promoting tourism. The rodeo parade went right down Highway 87. The Swiss Village put on a huge lighting ceremony on the day after Thanksgiving, which brought hundreds, if not thousands of people to Payson. We had the June Bug Blues Festival. A huge Chamber Mixer the week before the rodeo. Huge events celebrating the Hashknife Pony Express. In other words, there were many things going on that the town people participated in, and that brought tourists (you know...$$$) from the Valley, and elsewhere.

Before long, some genius decided that the town center/focus needed to be moved from Swiss Village to Main Street; in hopes of revitalizing Main Street. They moved the Rodeo Parade down there, now the parade is dwindling in participation. The Town stopped actively supporting the Lighting Ceremony at Swiss Village and created a Christmas Parade down Main Street culminating in a tree lighting ceremony at Green Valley Park. They built a multi-event center that they moved the rodeo to, and participation is, yup, you guessed it, dwindling! It is too darn hot, sitting out there in the blazing sun, with no cover, dirt, dust and few options to get out of the sun.

Ron, I certainly DO NOT want to turn Payson into the place I came from. I left California for a reason. I am fine with going to the Valley if I want to shop someplace besides WalMart. However, I despair seeing Payson dwindling on the vine. Yes, Ron, it most certainly is! Businesses which have been here for years can no longer afford to stay open. Businesses which would like to come here, have so many obstructions thrown in their path, they give up and open elsewhere. Grandiose ideas are proposed, plans are created, things are changed, and then...poof!!! Gone in a flash! Because feasibility studies were not done, or money ran out, or obstructions or fees proved too daunting. Payson is not willing to do whatever is necessary to get or keep businesses here. Too many of our politicians are too self centered, and not interested in the good of the town, but only in what might line their pockets.

0

Ronald Hamric 6 months, 2 weeks ago

Kim, I may not have been clear in my views regarding the title of this thread. The whole thrust of my comments were directed at those that have moved here and then want to either "freeze it in time" (ain't going to happen) and those that located here and want to make it mirror where they came from. You and I both have about equal time being "transplants" in this area. One of the principles I tend to gravitate towards is "when in Rome, do as the Romans do". If a person moves into any type of environment , especially the type that we enjoy, they should make sure they make at least some effort to "blend in"and adapt to their new home, not start complaining about the things they don't like about it. As I have said before, Payson will grow and develop, as the state/ national economy permits, and the people of Payson should all be involved and aware of how that growth is imagined and planned. No Master Plan is ever cast in concrete and is always subject to change, but by and large, the evolution of the town should reflect the desires of the "majority" of residents and not just those that are trying to run successful businesses here. And those plans should be very public so someone entertaining relocating here can at least have some idea of future development to help them better make their decision.

My contention has always been, and I told this to Richard Haddad when we had this discussion, that businesses here in this region will either be tailored towards the needs of the largest demographic or they will most likely fail. Currently one can clearly ascertain that dominant demographic simply by sitting on a bench at WalMart and observing the folks that come and go there. I certainly doubt anyone would deny that WalMart is the "dominant" business in Payson, whether some shop there or not. There is a very good business reason for that situation. I'm sure you heard the same laments I did pre-WalMart about how the local merchants "gouged" because they knew the residents didn't have many other options. Capitalism isn't checkers, it's cut-throat and only those that pay attention to the whims of their current/ potential customer base will survive. How many of the events you mentioned that have gone by the wayside. are linked to poor business decisions by either the city or the Chamber? I think we can both agree that those decisions certainly changed the "character" of Payson and you very astutely pointed out the results. ANTICIPATE CHANGE! We can't stop it but we can have some influence to how it unfolds.

0

Kim Chittick 6 months, 2 weeks ago

You hit the nail right on the head, Ron. "How many of the events you mentioned that have gone by the wayside. are linked to poor business decisions by either the city or the Chamber? I think we can both agree that those decisions certainly changed the "character" of Payson and you very astutely pointed out the results."

0

Pat Randall 6 months, 1 week ago

The event center should never have been moved. The people that built their homes around it and then complained about the noise should have built somewhere else. rodeo grounds have been moved 4 times since the first rodeo I went to as a kid. It always lines someone's pocket when it is moved. Not the town or the businesses that were here. The others you had to get off the highway and come thru town to get to 3 of them. Some people that do attend the rodeos don't even know there is a town down the road. My husband and I were stopped at the light coming out of the event center and a car full of people stopped and asked if there was anything near where they could eat except the Sonic? And the sign they put up a month or so ago saying Event Center is a joke. The Chamber of Commerce might as well close down. Most of the members are out of town business or were a few years ago,

0

Requires free registration

Posting comments requires a free account and verification.