Nov granite dells park tour: tree and entrance pillars

The Kenny Evans tree now prominently sits in the middle of the Granite Dells Park framed by the entrance pillars. “At the most elemental level, we want this park to be here for another 100 years,” said Evans, president of the MHA Foundation.

Jennifer Smith, president of the Rim Country Educational Foundation and project manager for the new Granite Dells Park, spends each day monitoring the progress of the park’s features closely.

In the last six weeks, rocks and mortar covered stream beds. As they emerge from the dry hills, Smith imagines the day when water will chatter. She commissioned her contractors to add large, flat rocks along the curves of the banks so visitors can sit next to the moving water.

A fire pit will lie between the two streams to give visitors a chance to enjoy the streams when it’s chilly.

Little pools along the edge of the stream will hold water plants.

Ramadas with picnic tables will overlook the stream and lake.

A paved path sloped to provide a gentle ride for anyone in a wheelchair will bring those visitors with disabilities to seating areas where they can enjoy the six-foot waterfall or the stage over the lake.

“On site, we will have more than seven miles of trails with multiple access points to the PATS (Payson Area Trails System) Granite Dells and Cypress Loop trails,” said Kenny Evans, president of the MHA Foundation.

The parking lots are “good sized” enough to take care of weekend traffic, said Evans.

He, along with Smith and Payson Councilor Chris Higgins, took a tour of construction progress in early November. Higgins is the first council member to tour the construction site since the groundbreaking in July.

“Jennifer has impeccable taste,” said Evans of Smith’s project management skills. “She asks, how would Mother Nature have done this?”

Since September, the banks of the lake have taken shape. The island in the middle will soon have a wall surrounding it to protect the island from turning into mush and drowning the ponderosas.

“We have to put in additional irrigation,” said Evans.

He has a special place in his heart for ponderosas; one in particular. The Kenny Evans tree now prominently sits in the middle of the park, framed by the entrance pillars.

To bring the community into building the park, local students have learned how to mortar flagstone onto the entrance pillars.

The kids had so much fun learning to mortar, “we literally had to take the tools away to get them to go home. Especially the girls,” he said.

When parents picked them up, the young mortar apprentices eagerly showed their parents where they placed their rocks, said Evans.

But he dreamed up another project — a time capsule.

“It’s just for the kids,” said Evans. “Anybody who works out here can come back in 2071, open it up and remember ‘What did I put in that?’”

At the wall to the entrance of the Granite Dells Road parking lot, Smith and Evans have hidden pictures of animals, a heart-shaped and arrowhead shaped rock. Evans might make that wall a scavenger hunt for the kids to find the rocks.

Evans then explained that the lake, as well as the streams, have multiple layers of liners to keep the water from seeping into the ground.

“A quarter-inch cloth protects the 30-mil liner. On top of all that is wire to create the stability for the gunite,” said Evans.

Basically, it’s like a huge pool with a water feature.

Underground, pipes buried deep, crisscross the park to circulate the water to keep it fresh for year-round trout.

Across from the island, earthmovers have dug out a half circle that will seat hundreds to watch concerts, plays and other entertainment on the covered stage flung out across the lake, anchored by the island.

“At the most elemental level, we want this park to be here for another 100 years,” said Evans.

After the tour, Higgins praised all the park’s unique features that cater to all age groups.

“It’s nice to be looking at features that aren’t done but are ... easier to envision as a completed park,” he said.

He looks forward to the ongoing talks between the town, MHA Foundation and Rim Country Educational Alliance.

“I like the idea of a public-private partnership that has worked out well,” said Higgins. “We want to make decisions that are good for the community down the road.”

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(1) comment

Mike White

It does sound nice. Has it been confirmed that MHA will not use the well on the property and instead purchase water from the Town to help us with the water system costs?

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