Payson Elections Have Left This Voter Disillusioned

I, like many others, thought that the local race for mayor and town council seats would be  a race focused on improving the community, building community, and having a vision for the town articulated by the candidates. Am I ever disappointed. Talk about negative campaigning which all started with accusations of the mayor violating open meeting laws and helping his friend build a pool. The negativity has only continued as the majority of the candidates have entered the fray. What a mess as everybody cries foul and all the voters get is bickering between the candidates. Local elections should be somewhat civil.

So now we have the controversy of the Fox Farm annexation that might be used to develop a light industrial park. That sort of got my interest since I am quite familiar with the site due to running on Granite Dells road and spending time on the various trails located south and west of the site. I will admit I was quite alarmed but that has passed. Currently the Fox Farm area is used not only by those looking to hike but by dirt bikes, atv’s, partiers, and even dumpsters. Yes you can find mattresses down by the Fox Farm. If you were to learn about the history of the trails in that area, you might discover that many years ago local residents Mark Sopeland and Roy Sandoval actually were riding their mountain bikes on the “animal” trails and took clippers along to help widen and connect areas so there would be some loops for people to use. Maybe they should have some input on the area. In my opinion, with correct development, the trail system could have paved trail head parking and the Forest Service could establish a pay structure to help pay the cost like they do in Sedona. Just a thought. I constantly hear how the airport park can accommodate the ammo group but I never hear or see what area up there will accommodate the company. Is it just something to say or is there really some large acreage available? No specifics have ever been mentioned.

So my friend Andy Romance, who really is a visionary, wrote this on his Facebook page:

My short answer is, Job creation trumps environmental preservation. My longer answer is, we can have both if private development and government work well together; The community cannot effectively respond at the last moment, but it’s government must proactively create an economic and environmental roadmap for development to follow. For example,1) Encourage the local government to require three complete trailheads along Granite Dells Road, one at Cypress Trail, one at Monument Peak Trail, and one at the Fox Farm accessing Boulders Trail. A complete trailhead includes restrooms, water stations, parking lots, and information kiosks. 2) Require a minimum 8-ft wide paved shared use pathway for pedestrians and bicycles the entire length of Granite Dells Road between Fox Farm and Safeway Commercial Center, detached from the roadway a minimum of 4-feet.3) So Star Valley and Payson both benefit from these amenities, and the employment, require public access through the industrial site by extending Granite Dells Road to Moonlight Drive. 4) Finally, if the community desires, determine what type of building materials and architectural style the campus must create. Soooo… THIS is how I believe government can create an environment where existing citizens, future employees, the developer, and employer can all succeed, and BAM a little town can start competing with the big cities for a Great Economy, while flat out kicking tail with Quality of Living.

Thank you Andy for those words of wisdom. Those are the types of things lacking from the candidates running for office. Nowhere can I find so much as a vision for the community expressed by those running for public office. So I currently see the dilemma as one group opposing it simply for the sake of opposing it and another group for it simply for the sake of being for it. I just can’t figure it out, what does anybody have to say about a vision for Payson and how improvements can occur and what one would like Payson to look like.

There is plenty to discuss. Payson is probably the only community that I am aware of, in the Northern Arizona area that has no identifiable downtown which results in a lack of community. How about making Payson a bicycle, running, walking, swimming, and outdoor pedestrian friendly town? Most places that are thriving are welcoming to the pedestrian.  (Prescott, Williams, Flagstaff, Cottonwood, Sedona, Village of Oak Creek, Show Low, Pinetop, Clarkdale, Jerome) Not Payson.

I would like to see some progressive thoughts on improving Payson. How about getting rid of every single stoplight in Payson and putting in traffic circles? Progressive? Better? Who knows but I will say the current way of dealing with traffic on the highway is not effective and leads to people just trying to get out of town. Did I mention vision? Why is That Brewery fromPine adding a second location in Cottonwood. Could it be that Payson was noncooperative? Payson should have actively recruited them onto a spot on Main St. If you visit with the shop owners in Old Town Cottonwood, they will talk about a visionary town manager and visionary town council. I know because I asked. They actually sent a group to recruit the expansion of That Brewery (Pine) into Cottonwood and helped find a location/building to house the brewery.

My advice whether anybody wants it or not is to show some independent thoughts, ideas, and explanations of how you will strive to improve our community. Right now, my ballot is about to be wasted.

About 14 months ago, I went to Starbucks in Fountain Hills to drink some coffee and eat a breakfast sandwich. I joined a family sitting outdoors on the patio and had a wonderful conversation. Initially I had no idea that I was sitting with a former first round NBA draft pick. I am not disclosing his name but he is a very tall non-white male. His wife and infant son were having breakfast at Starbucks and they welcomed me into their conversation. We quickly hit it off and our conversation turned to where I lived and when I told him and his wife, Payson, his exact quote to me was, “you know, we went and visited Payson about a month ago and couldn’t get out of that town quick enough”. Stunning? It smacked me in the head with the cold reality of his words.

Of course I had to explore why.  He said that the town was downright ugly and they never could find the the downtown. He asked me where is the downtown? I had no answer. Anyhow, he and his family eventually ended up at Walmart and they turned right around and went back home. Now I realize that might be harsh but here is a guy who has millions to invest and wanted nothing to do with Payson. To further that view of the town, one only had to be here for the firework display where nobody communicated to the crowd that a delay was happening and that there would be fireworks as soon as there was a break. Instead, the overwhelming majority left the area only to see the fireworks going off in their rear view mirror one hour behind schedule. Somebody should have been held accountable for that PR disaster.

All I ever wanted was to find out if anybody could articulate their vision for improving the community and making it a destination spot instead of a pass through community. Even Clarkdale, AZ has figured it out. Check out Old Town Cottonwood. http://www.oldtown.org Note what a thriving small town community might look like.

I am so disappointed that we have “teams” running against each other. I still and always will believe that local elections should have candidates that run independently. Independent thought is most important to me. I only see one candidate who is completely independent and I find that disturbing. I remember when Mayor Edwards put together a team to run with him and that didn’t turn out so well. It is time to break up and speak as an independent voice on what “you” as a candidate believe. That is the small town way.

So back to my point on voting for a visionary, what I care about is how is Payson going to be a more attractive community that is biker and pedestrian friendly and embraces a healthy life style for all. (See the above list of towns for some ideas) Gee whiz, how about a pool that stays open past the third week of July and is open 6 days a week? My wife and I and our money go to Sedona to swim in their community pool because it is open from May through the end of October with times to swim on  Saturday, and Sunday. Every other week, we trek to the Verde Valley area so we can enjoy walking around on designated trails, bike, run, swim, eat and drink. I don’t want to hear any excuses about the lack of workers etc, on why a pool can’t be open for a longer period of time.

48460a Here is an example of  what Cottonwood did to make their town bicycle friendly: http://verdenews.com/main.asp?SectionID=1&SubSectionID=1&ArticleID=48460 You ever see a sign that says, Payson is a bicycle friendly town”? Or how about a sign in Payson that says “share the road”? They just don’t exist because the town leaders and managers do not embrace pedestrian traffic. It is time to replace the old school town department heads with some new blood that has some ideas on improving community. I think replacing the current department head with an Andy Romance would be the first order of business. We need a visionary who understands community and embraces outdoor activities and it starts with replacing those who have become a hinderance in progress by their positions at town hall. Just look at what Pinetop has done with Andy. Lets bring him home!

Enough said. I challenge you to go ask people in thriving communities if visionary leaders make a difference. Just look at the picture of Old Town Cottonwood. Note the crosswalk signs so people can walk around. Could never do that in Payson wit316_003h the current management team in town hall.

So please candidates articulate a vision for Payson. Transparency, et all is not a vision. That is just common sense and I get that. I want to hear your real vision for Payson.

About timfruth

Longtime public educator who recently retired from public education. Messed around in politics as a town councilor and vice mayor. I am a father and a husband who currently works in a new active career in Human Resources. Love the outdoors and rapidly adjusting to a new me.
This entry was posted in Payson, Politics, Town Council, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Payson Elections Have Left This Voter Disillusioned

  1. Charlene Brown says:

    Tim, anytime you feel like calling me you will see that our visions are not far apart. If you had asked for a copy of my bio and goals you would see what I am talking about. I would think you could easily reach out to each candidate and ask these questions before going on the attack. I made numerous appearances all over Payson for the last three months and had all my statements with me. Your article above does exactly what you are accusing me and others of doing. We have known each other for years, are connected on Facebook and my phone number is easily obtained as I have splashed it everywhere.
    Thanks, Charlene 951-5624

  2. Charlene Brown says:

    Also Tim, you might be happy to know that myself, Robert Lockhart, Randy Roberson and Chris Higgins spent an entire day in Cottonwood a few weeks back, meeting with their Economic Development Director and touring the town, vineyards and a lot of facilities that have improved the quality of life for its residents. We were impressed and have many ideas as a result. We have reached out in other areas as well.

  3. Dan Kelley says:

    Tim you have a great point. I grew up in Payson and left 20 years ago. I bring my wife and kid back to visit a lot, and we find ourselves with nothing to do. The bowling alley is a joke. There is no downtown to walk and shop. Most old towns that we visit, they all have downtown areas that are busy during the summer season with tourist. I live in a fairly small town in Northern New Mexico and we have a downtown area that is usually pretty busy. There is a brewpub there and it is always busy. They have a lot of memorabilia from when the town was started. We are 40 minutes from downtown Durango, CO, and if you have never been there it is defiantly a sight to see. Tim you definitely are on the right track. Payson has a lot of history and could benefit a lot from having a true downtown. It seems to me that Payson has fallen behing in its development of getting people to stop and shop on their way through. Good luck and thanks for the article.

  4. Andy says:

    Hey Tim – As usual, you make good sense and have keen discernment on many topics. A couple of other things I’ve learned while going around the block a few times, regarding distinct difference between a Dreamer and a Get-‘er-done’er…

    1) Vision: Many leaders have “faux vision”. It’s not a bad thing and is surely better than no vision at all. However, those without experience in completing projects or sustaining programs need to surround themselves with confident experts. Specific to Payson, I recall when a longtime Planning Director left town, though frustrated, gave a caring and prophetic measuring tool.
    Said was simply, “How goes Main Street, so goes Payson.”

    2) Implementation: This is primarily done by the above mentioned experts, capable of knowing when the bar has been set too low or too high, with successful record of even higher-bar achievement than is the set goal. There are even too many “faux experts” and this is never good. These can be identified by recommended ‘best practices’ copied from other successful organizations; Unaware that best practice can only be duplicated when the system it is applied to is identical to the successful system. This occurs, well, never! So the implementer must again have experience with projects and programs that encompass the best practice they are recommending for Payson, or any other organization.

  5. Don Evans says:

    Yo Tim, man you really blew it by letting me discover you have a web blog. Of course I would have titled it “Still Breaking Wind!” LOL… Your post about our election coming up is pretty right on in my opinion. I don’t like team candidates much either. And, that is the case for both the current office holders and challengers in this election. Two ideological sets of opposites. However, for me, I think an overall turnover in Town leadership is warranted. For me, our Mayor and several drone go along to just get along councilmembers need to go. Do I know very much about the all the challengers, nope, very little this time. So yes, I am taking a big chance with my vote. Sometimes, the grass is greener. What really po’s me about this annexation deal, lack of transparency by all the players. The Mayors official dark dealing by himself officially behind the scenes, poor P/R by the Ammo Company, and NO P/R information from the two main players in this “private land sale” between the Rim Club and DCK Worldwide LLC. That’s what the reason is for the annexation of 760 forest acres into Payson is all about. 760 acres that Payson can do nothing with. That Fox Farm 80 acres is mostly land locked in the middle. The Rim Club knew that when they bought it. This annexation is a deal to facilitate the sale and purchase between those two private parties. DCK Worldwide LLC will own it, develop it, and lease or SELL it at their choosing. But they need Payson’s infrastructure such as water, utility rights of way, road connectivity etc. HPR Ammo will only occupy a portion of it and lease back the facility built for them for twenty years. We have no information or submitted plans for public view and discourse as to what other types of “Light” Industry business’ will be allowed there at a future time. How many jobs, what types of job salaries, and taxes for Payson? It’s all secret just like the mythological college. DCK Worldwide LLC is NOW the probable financier and developer for the Rim Country Educational Alliance SLE. Starting to see a pattern here? First the current Town Admin. will pass it, then they will tell us little people all about it. Of course, when it’s to late to do anything about it. I call both projects “Dark Deals”. Besides the HPR claim they don’t have enough industrial land up at the, not to long ago RE-Zoned Industrial development Payson 4 land Exchange, word has it HPR did not want to pay the asking prices for what land they need. Enough already….Forgive my typos Tim, to lazy to do it in word perfect for spell checks. And besides, I’m just a product of the public education system. Ouch, LOL… all the best and it’s a great blog. Keep it up.

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