As Mayor Craig Swartwood’s term comes to a close, a project he hoped would revitalize Rumsey Park and the economy died a quiet death Thursday night. The council dissolved an agreement with Valley-based consulting group Community Center Partners LLC and Varxity Development.
The town originally approved a tri-party contract in September 2017 for the development of the Rumsey Park master plan. The town and Varxity each put in $125,000 for CCP to draft the plan. That resulted in an ambitious strategy to rework the layout of the park, relocating ball fields, adding walking paths, new dog and skate parks, pool, community center and two ice skating rinks.
Varxity had hoped to build a college preparatory school in Payson and use the park facilities.
CCP said financing for the $43 million complex would come from private sources, secured by revenue generated by the facilities.
To secure that financing and “validate” the plan, CCP required another $500,000. The town asked the Friends of Payson Parks and Recreation to collect donations. The group reportedly collected less than $50,000, although pledges totaled $125,000.
For all that the plan promised to deliver, many residents were leery.
In August, voters approved two propositions, 401 and 402, “which may have a direct effect on the future of Rumsey Park, thus impacting the validation process,” according to a town resolution. Then in September, donors requested their money back for phase 1 of validation.
With no money to see the project continue, the town, CCP and Varxity met and mutually agreed to terminate the agreement. Councilor Barbara Underwood “regretfully” motioned to approve the resolution Thursday night. It passed unanimously.