It is not always easy to find a place to meet, listen to speakers, put on a show or work on volunteer projects in Maricopa.
A consistently accessible and affordable venue for community activities has been in demand for years.
“I think it’s critically necessary,” retiree Ted Yocum said.
He is part of a group of Maricopans who formed a nonprofit a year ago to create a community center, calling it Maricopa Multi Cultural Consortium (MMCC). What followed was a string of discussions and visits to centers in various cities to snoop out possibilities.
With the pending demise of the Copa Center, which is in the path of the planned State Route 347 overpass, that conversation is louder than ever before.
The initial fund-raising goal is $250,000. Yocum, who is president of the MMCC board, said they arrived at that figure after shooting down low estimates and also reconfiguring their idea of what the center should look like.
MMCC started a GoFundMe account in December, but the project has complex issues.
“We do have severe challenges besides funding,” said Al Brandenburg, a founding director and board treasurer of MMCC.
That includes community interest, finding an entity to donate land that is not in the flood plain, hammering out a complete strategy and meeting the goals of the city’s General Plan.
Brandenburg said he is least worried about finding land.
“If we get the funding for the building, it will become much easier to turn around and say, ‘OK, we need land someplace.’ And somebody needs to donate it, whether it be the city or whether it be some of the businesses,” he said.
The plan is to start with one building as Phase 1. When funding comes in, two more wings or buildings could be added. Those would comprise a rehearsal/performance space and an exhibit space.
“We like to consider ourselves infrastructure,” said Bob Marsh, who is also an MMCC officer. He said the community center could fit in well with the new General Plan’s 2040 Vision in which neighborhoods are created as villages with a meeting venue at the center.
Most of the MMCC directors are also volunteer members of city boards and advisory committees and know the inner workings of the city budget. Yocum said he sympathizes with the city and its budget decisions.
He said MMCC does not intend to compete with the city or any other entity. The limits of existing city venues like Copper Sky and City Hall spurred the move to get residents and businesses in the driver’s seat for a community center.
Though the city is not involved in the MMCC process, planner Ryan Wozniak offered his outsider’s view. He said others might want to know the nonprofit’s “goals, objectives and strategies to making this project a success prior to donating.”
He provided the directors a list of questions most benefactors would want answered, such as “What is the plan for making this venture a sustained one?” and “Will the first phase include a way to generate funding for the following phases?”
For now, the wish list for the Phase 1 building includes:
• Large meeting room
• Classroom space/game rooms
• Hospitality room
• Information center
• Prep kitchen
“This would be primarily for the things that other venues are incapable of being able to carry on,” Brandenburg said.
Though the concept for the community center was inspired by the lack of a senior center in Maricopa, Brandenburg said it was essential to broaden the mission.
“We know if we concentrate only on seniors, we’ll bomb and bomb quickly,” he said. “All we’re interested in is to have it up, have it available for everybody – the veterans, the arts council, whoever wants to use it – with us essentially running it initially.”
The vision is then to turn the center over to the city.
MMCC Mission Statement
This Consortium shall strive to provide a multi use venue to hold meetings, events, seminars, presentations, public addresses, and other similar activities consistent with the vision and direction of the Consortium, as well as to establish and maintain a site for conferences and meeting rooms, on land leased, owned or otherwise controlled by this Consortium.
This story appears in the January issue of InMaricopa.