Next Step in Land Approval Moves Forward

July 27, 2013, Payson, Arizona – – The Rim Country Educational Alliance  (the Alliance) announced today that the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) has provided approval and signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) and concurred with the revised Archeological Mitigation Treatment Plan for culturally significant sites found on the approximately 250 acres of US Forest Service property that remains the target site on which to build a university campus in Payson. “We’ve achieved another key milestone this week,” said Steve Drury, the Alliance Chairman.  “I’m very pleased to note that this one was achieved ahead of schedule.”

The signed MOA paves the way for the US Forest Service Supervisor for the Southwestern Region to sign off on the National Environmental Protection Act documentation. Sign off on the NEPA is the final step before the USFS can formally proceed with an appraisal on the property.

The SHPO assessed over twenty points raised in the cultural survey of the property, and decided that the sales implementation process can continue to move forward. They concurred that the treatment plan to examine the several culturally significant sites will adequately document of the findings on those sites.

Two other key steps remain, prior to the Supervisor’s office approval. The first is an ethno-historic study that is already underway. The US Forest Service has provided the funds for the study and is managing the process. Completion of the study is expected by early August.

Also, The Alliance is negotiating a performance bond to cover the mitigation work outlined in the treatment plan. The bond ensures that the mitigation work will be completed, and facilitates the transfer of title, prior to the conclusion of the mitigation work. “We won’t know the actual scope of the mitigation, till the work starts. The bond enables all parties to be comfortable that the work will be initiated and completed, even though we won’t own the property at the time the treatment work begins,” explained Drury. The bond also enables various types of prep work to occur on the site.

Last month’s approval of the Sales Implementation Strategy using a Direct Sale process was key in accelerating the momentum of the land acquisition. The Direct Sale will occur for the appraised value of the land, and enable the process to be completed more quickly. “The Direct Sale allows us to move forward with finalizing the sales price, “ Drury commented.  Interim financing is being negotiated to close on the land purchase and fund the balance of the pre-development costs.

Phase One of construction, including onsite engineering, layout, and site planning, is likely to begin sometime in October.  Offsite infrastructure construction, including water, streets, and power, is expected to start this fall. The needed infrastructure will be established this year. Phase Two, the onsite groundbreaking, can occur once title to the property is obtained.

“We owe a debt of gratitude to our local Forest Service officials, who have demonstrated extraordinary partnership and commitment,” noted Payson Mayor Kenny Evans.  “Now that the land acquisition process is moving forward with a closing date in sight, we can resume meaningful dialogue with ASU,” continued Evans. “Thanks to the work and efforts of the Forest Service officials and the support of the Arizona State Historic Preservation Officer, we will be able to expedite the timeline for land purchase by more than a month.”

About Rim Country Educational Alliance

Rim Country Educational Alliance (RCEA) is a Separate Legal Entity formed in 2011 by an intra-governmental agreement between the Towns of Payson and Star Valley, AZ for the specific purpose of engaging in activities that further the concept of higher or advanced education, and economic and workforce development in Arizona’s Rim Country.  A Separate Legal Entity (SLE) is a stand-alone political subdivision of the State of Arizona.  SLEs typically are formed for specific governmental functions and ordinarily include a county, city, town, or school district.

Contact for more information about Rim Country Educational Alliance:

Mary Kastner
Vice Chairperson
Rim Country Educational Alliance
(928) 595-2088


Contract for more information about this press release:

Laura Ann Bartlett-Armstrong
Marketing and PR Committee Lead
Payson University Campus Volunteer Committee

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