PAYSON, Ariz. - Payson is looking to be designated as an official Dark Sky community. This would make the town the fifth community in Arizona, and the 12th in the nation, to receive this designation.
According to the International Dark-Sky Association’s website, the designation means that the community “has shown exceptional dedication to the preservation of the night sky through the implementation and enforcement of a quality outdoor lighting ordinance, dark sky education and citizen support of dark skies.”
Trevor Fleetham, who works with in Payson's Community Development Department, said that Payson has been a dark sky city for a decade, but has not received the official title from the IDA.
“We just need to make a few minor changes to zoning codes and check a few more boxes as far as educational events go before we receive the official title,” said Fleetham.
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Fleetham hopes that the title will be given to Payson within the next six months, as the city has been working for a year to receive the designation. Receiving the official designation would have both economic and tourism benefits for the town.
Shelia DeSchaaf, the community development director for Payson, agreed that the town is close to receiving the official Dark Sky City designation.
“We even have a local astronomy club that has volunteered to help us out with the educational elements of the requirements” said DeSchaaf.
Once the city overcomes the last hurdles of zoning codes and educational events, Payson is looking at joining towns such as Flagstaff and Sedona in being an official Dark Sky City.
“We are just looking forward to be included on the list of only four other Arizona cities with this designation,” said Fleetham.