Ron Chambless

Ron Chambless is a partner with Community Center Partners and the director of operations.

A Canadian man with a dream of a building an elite college preparatory school in Payson with a focus on hockey has entered escrow on property behind Walmart. Meanwhile, consultants continue to work with the town on a proposed community center in Rumsey Park.

Lane Moore of Alberta, Canada, with Varxity Development Corporation, on Tuesday entered escrow for the 26 acres previously slated for residential housing. Moore would like to put a prep school there with a training center and possible ice arena that could bring an additional 200 jobs to the community as well as sports tournaments.

Moore is partnering with the town on a pre-development agreement, hiring Community Center Partners LLC of the Valley. CCP is charged with three assignments: a plan for a prep academy for athletes including dorm facilities; the opportunity for a community center in Rumsey, including replacing Taylor Pool; park revitalization options detailed in a parks master plan.

Three members of CCP are meeting or corresponding twice a month with Payson officials and Moore.

CCP plans to present plans for the park and school along with financing models in six months.

Ron Chambless, executive vice president/COO with CCP, said any plan would be risk-neutral to the town.

Lee Ploszaj, managing partner with CCP, said taxpayers would not have to foot the bill for improvements. They said they are looking at financing options, but will not propose a referendum action, like a bond, to finance the facilities.

“We are excited to partner with the Town of Payson and Lane Moore ... to plan and develop a comprehensive community center partners model, one that is supported and funded through an innovative public/private partnership plan,” Ploszaj said.

A public meeting is scheduled at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 18 at the Nazarene Church where residents can meet the planning team; review plans, get a progress update and provide feedback or ask questions about the project.

Chambless said they are currently in the discovery phase, meeting with prospective community and kindred partners; conducting focus groups, meeting with special groups and conducting one-on-one meetings with town officials.

CCP will soon begin the review process of the preliminary master plan design for Rumsey Park.

Those plans will also be presented at a town hall where the community can weigh in before any formal plans are developed.

“The Town of Payson is committed to advancing the economic vitality of our community; improving the quality of life services and facilities and maintaining the fiscal stewardship of our resources,” said Mayor Craig Swartwood in a prepared statement. “This tri-party pre-development plan is a public/private partnership model that allows us to achieve this goal.”

Chambless said the proposed community center would be much more than a gym. He envisions a multi-generation center where residents can take cooking classes, attend concerts, play bridge and attain a healthy lifestyle.

“It is not just a gym or fitness center,” he said. “To say it is would be woefully inaccurate because it will be so much more.”

While students from the prep school may use the center, it will also be open to the public, including seniors and families. There could be a gymnasium and wellness center, but also meeting rooms, a performing arts theater and a swimming pool.

Chambless said a good example of a community center is in Liberty, Mo.

Chambless said he was there recently and in just one day watched people of every age use the center, including retirees, the school band and middle school athletes.

A community center would be a huge advantage to the community along with the prep school, Swartwood said.

The school could attract 600 students from around the world. While the students would live on campus, their families would naturally visit and this would likely bring more restaurants and shops to town. The school would also attract tournaments, another revenue generator.

“We have been strategically planning for a college prep academy for elite athletes in the Southwest for almost two years,” Moore said. “The opportunity to consider and plan our campus in Payson provides our model a quality community to launch our innovative education and sports model.”

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(2) comments

Meria Heller

What happened to the land purchased for the "ASU" supposed campus?

Paul Frommelt

I would truly love for a project like this to work out for our community. It has the potential to bring in jobs and a tax base other than fixed income essential spending. I just question the feasibility of anyone spending around $40,000 to $50,000 a year for tuition (plus expenses!) to send their child to Payson Arizona, to learn soccer! But as long as the residents here are not held liable for any potential losses, Go For It!

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