proposed county complex in payson

The exterior of the new Gila County proposed for Payson is drawing complaints from residents about its industrial look.

A number of residents are disappointed with the look of the planned $5.5 million county complex in Payson.

Shortly after the Roundup ran a story about the complex on Jan. 22, which included a rendering of the exterior, there were more than 70 comments posted on social media.

Donovan Christian started one conversation, posting, “Disappointed to see what Gila County is going to be building on one of our highest visibility locations in town as well as adjacent to historic Main Street. No architectural interest or connection to what reflects the uniqueness of Payson.”

The plan calls for a 10,600-square-foot multipurpose complex, just north of the existing Gila County court facility at the corner of Colcord and Frontier streets.

Former Payson Town Councilor Andy Romance said, “I think multiple organizations can share responsibility for the outcome; town — county — state.”

Romance said the town should assert the tree preservation ordinance and other design guidelines while the county should respect the town’s ordinances, community vision and mojo.

“This takes relationships over resolutions because entities such as counties, school districts and other SLEs, although physically located within the town, do not legally have to comply with town code.”

“All that being said, the county only has so much to spend, so appreciate their attention to budget,” he said. “I don’t recall the town offering to offset costs associated with funding amenities, but perhaps they did.”

Joining the conversation, longtime area Realtor Becky Kilgore Sopeland, said, “That lot was covered with tall ponderosas when Coldwell Banker and HiLand Builders built the complex which now houses the court facilities to the south ... nothing left of them. Little by little they were all cut down. This looks like it belongs up at the airport ... the county maintenance yard, maybe.

Assistant County Manager Homero Vela, who has supervised the county’s recent building projects both in Payson and Globe, offered this to the Roundup.

“The color scheme and materials for the building were developed by Gila County and the architectural firm for the building (Architekton) and the general contractor (CORE Construction). The process included the development of colors and materials that not only would fit into the aesthetics of the Town of Payson, but also would provide uniform, long lasting, low maintenance and low life-cycle costs.”

Some wondered if the design meets design review guidelines set forth by the Town of Payson.

Vela explained, “The entire design concept for the building has been done during the COVID crisis and approved as part of the contract approval process. The team has followed all applicable codes and ordinances.”

One woman said she was disappointed because the building sits near the entrance of Main Street and its lack of character does not match the style of nearby buildings, like National Bank of Arizona.

Romance agreed. “National Bank is a good visual example. I was on the GVRA committee during that project development and recall their first submittal was far less than what we see today as built. We only had to communicate our town vision and assert our guidelines in a timely manner, and they were very willing to embrace them. Not only does their building have style, they constructed their full-width portion of the multi-purpose pathway detached from street curb.”

Another woman asked if the designers had visited Payson as it looks more like an industrial building you would find in the Valley.

Sopeland posted, “Maybe it’s not too late to insist on a more aesthetically pleasing and area appropriate facade for our city. Might have to make a ruckus ... just sayin’.

Several suggested reaching out to county supervisors for changes.

District 1 Supervisor Steve Christensen’s administrative assistant Cheryl Sluyter sent this response to the discussion.

“Thank you everyone for all your comments. Supervisor Christensen will take anything that is of interest to you into consideration. Remember, he just walked in the door to plans that have been bought and paid for and this has been years in the making. Tommie (Martin, Christensen’s late predecessor) worked tirelessly to make this happen.

“I will absolutely make sure he sees all these comments. We are working on getting him acquainted to so many things this last two weeks, and a Facebook page is soon to come. He is so excited to listen to all of your thoughts and opinions.

“Please call me anytime and I will get him all messages.”

Several people commented that the design appeared to match the nearby jail.

Vela said, “The color scheme with the contrast of light and dark colors creates a naturally inviting draw toward the access points and also creates an intuitive way-finding tool. The texture, or skin, of the building symbolizes the pine trees that Payson is beloved for. Also included in the design of the site is the planting of 26 additional trees, 165 shrubs, and 88 grasses and perennials that represent Gila County.”

The new county complex will house office space for the board of supervisors, the Superior Court judge, the assessor, recorder/elections, treasurer and the superintendent of schools.

Vela says the large meeting room can be used for public meetings, as well as an emergency operating center for coordination of emergencies.

“The concept, including the floor plan, has been on display on poster board for the past three months at the Payson Assessor’s and Recorder’s office. Gila County staff is currently finalizing color concepts and costs with the board of supervisors. Public input is welcome and alternatives will be considered as costs and materials logistics allow.”

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(5) comments

Phil Mason

Vela's comment - “The concept, including the floor plan, has been on display on poster board for the past three months at the Payson Assessor’s and Recorder’s office." - shows both a lack of communication skills and a lack of connection to the world we are not living in.

We are all advised to radically restrict or eliminate any in-person contact with our government officials, while retail stores are open and operating with efficiency and safety. The "snowflake" elitism of our public "servants" is nauseating.

To compound that sentiment is even more noxious when the public"servant" flippantly says they had a poster board in the lobby of the government building that they are restricting or eliminating access to. For an article to engender 70 responses is not in the norms.

Vela needs to apologize to his employers - the people, the County needs to reopen considerations of the design with advertised opportunities for public comment. This building will be in our daily existence for the rest of our lives. That is worth investing the time and attention to make it right.

Mike White

Had this design been shown in the Roundup, Vela would have had the opportunity to receive feedback from a great many citizens of the Payson area.

Mike White

Too bad it doesn't have a Western-themed façade instead of something resembling an airplane hangar or maintenance yard storage facility. Wouldn't cost much more.

Phil Mason

Good call Mike. Seems like elected officials who are rooted in the area would have demanded that instead of meekly following the recommendations of hirelings.

Judy Radigan

Agree. Seems there could have been a little more character to coincide with drawing people down to main street. Have to believe there is a local architect who could have come up with a more attractive exterior.

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