Public input sought on multigenerational facility

By Tom Gibbons

April 4, 2012 - 2:19 pm
Residents shared ideas on design of city's multigenerational center before Tuesday's council meeting. At right, Joseph Salvatore, principal architect. Photo by Tim Howsare.

They’ve heard it all -- and they want to hear more.

Brent Billingsley and Maria Billingsley from the city of Maricopa and Brie Smith from Architekton, a Tempe-based architecture firm, have been meeting with stakeholders to learn the community’s views about what the new $16.2-million multigenerational center and aquatic facility should include.

The city has been soliciting comments about the projects for almost two years.

Since February, the city and Architekton have conducted workshops, consulting with schools; the youth council; the Parks, Recreation and Library Advisory Committee; instructors; coaches; program leaders and seniors groups to learn their priorities for the facilities.

They visited the Fishing Derby and the Salsa Festival to survey families whose voices might not have been represented.

“Understanding that Maricopa is an incredibly diverse community, we wanted to hear from a large number of groups and organizations,” Smith said.

During the workshops, residents are asked to list their top five priorities on cards. Then they hand the cards to their peers, who cross off any items not among their top priorities. The cards are placed on the wall. Everyone gets to place three stickers on the items that resonate most with them.

“It’s a great way to give a voice to a large group of people,” Smith said.

In the workshops, the public has indicated it wants a destination for all residents, not only as a place to play or engage in physical activity, but to socialize. Meeting space ranked as much a priority as having a large gym to host basketball tournaments.

“In meeting with all the groups, from the youth council to the seniors, what they wanted as a whole was really consistent,” Smith said.

Maria Billingsley, recreation coordinator for the city, said one concern from residents was to avoid duplicating features Maricopa already has or are in the pipeline.

“For instance, we wouldn’t want to build classrooms when CAC (Central Arizona College) is coming here already,” she said. “They want the space to be used for other purposes.”

The process isn’t done. There are three more meetings for public input:

• 4:30-7 p.m. April 4 at the Maricopa Public Library, 41600 W. Smith-Enke Road
• 5:30-7 p.m. May 1 at the Maricopa Unified School District Administration Building, 44150 W. Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway
• 4:30-7 p.m. May 3 at the Maricopa Public Library

These meetings will go over what stakeholders have offered so far and give the public an opportunity to add input. The May meetings will have information closer to the final design.

“The scope right now is to design the multigenerational center and the aquatic center,’’ said Brent Billingsley, director of development services.

“However, the city doesn’t have money to build both. The priority the (city) council has set is to build the multigenerational center but have the aquatic center designed so that as money comes available, they are both designed, they are symbiotic; they work well together.”

It is possible there will be an aquatic component in the first phase of building the multigenerational center, Brent Billingsley said.

The center is part of the series of projects for the Vekol Property, a city-owned 140-acre parcel near John Wayne Parkway and Bowlin Road.

The city’s plan includes a regional park/sports complex, flood control improvements and setting aside some parcels for economic development.

Brent Billingsley said the development team soon will go to the city council asking to award a design-build contract for the sports complex.
“We hope to deliver all these projects by the end of 2013,’’ he said.




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