When a bulldozer started piling up trees off of Mud Springs Road between East Frontier Street and the roundabout on Granite Dells Road earlier this week, neighbors took notice.
“People stop by and ask, ‘Why are you building a prison on this spot?’” said Kenny Evans, president of the MHA Foundation. “When I told them that’s not what we’re building, they said, ‘Well then, it’s going to be a reform school, huh?’”
The project will house neither, said Evans. The site will include a community center and ballfields and possibly an elite sports academy.
For the first phase of build out, Evans said the MHA Foundation is putting in grass football and soccer fields.
The group is going with grass instead of turf with water from the C.C. Cragin about to flow.
The more water this project uses, the less of a chance the Payson Water Department will need to raise water rates, said Evans.
In phase two, the MHA Foundation plans to build a community center based on plans the Town of Payson created for Rumsey Park, said MHA board member Gary Cordell.
“It will be similar. We’ll have an aquatic center and a multi-generational center,” he said.
“It won’t just be a center for seniors,” said Evans, “the whole family will be able to go.”
The foundation plans on funding the ongoing maintenance needs based on “a public-private partnership,” said Evans.
“A community center can’t pay for itself,” he said.
The plan created to upgrade Rumsey Park envisioned selling memberships and other revenue sources to generate at least a million dollars or more.
Other sources of income included leases, tournaments, events, rentals and partnerships with community groups such as Banner Health, the Payson Senior Center, the Town of Payson and a private sports academy.
This new project plans on following that same blueprint.
“We want to have multiple streams of income without going into the pockets of taxpayers,” said Evans.
Building from scratch will remove the challenges the Rumsey Park plan bumped into — upgrading to make everything ADA compliant, moving fields and rebuilding facilities and parking lots.
Building the community center and fields on the east side of town will bring a recreation site to that area of town. So far, they have no parks, said Evans.
Another benefit, the recreation site will provide access to the Payson Area Trails System and the Granite Dells area. The recent Forest Service travel management plan calls for Granite Dells to be non-motorized.
But the MHA Foundation needs some help to complete this first phase.
The foundation has started a Community Center Facility Fund.
“We need about $150,000 to get to the construction phase,” said Evans.
Evans envisions the community center acting as an economic driver for the community.
“The critical elements are infrastructure and quality of life to make a community great,” he said.
When asked when the first phase will be complete, Evans said, “We’ll get this done as quickly as we can, but it’s measured in months.”