Semi-retired engineer Bob Marsh moved to Maricopa seven years ago and has since sought to cure his insatiable itch to fix problems in the community by seeking them out himself.
“I think that’s what we’re here on the planet for – to help each other,” Marsh says.
He’s a figure in the city, holding many positions in various groups with local government. Marsh is a Planning & Zoning commissioner, treasurer of the Maricopa Multicultural Consortium, member of the Subdivision Ordinance Rewrite Team, and member on the Desert Cedars HOA board of directors.
Marsh thinks big picture, but can also focus on the details, especially when it comes to how a project will look in Maricopa and how it will make Maricopa feel, said Maricopa City Councilmember Peggy Chapados, who appointed him to P&Z in 2014.
Most recently, Marsh ran for a seat on the Maricopa Flood Control District Board. Out of 36 total votes cast, Marsh lost by two in October to ED3 Design Engineer Scott Kelley.
“There were two engineers running, so people couldn’t lose,” Marsh said. “It was a good solution, whoever got it.”
Finding answers to difficult situations is programmed in Marsh, an MIT graduate who over his long career has worked on projects affiliated with the likes of the FBI, NASA and tech giant Microsoft among many others.
On his first day at the elite tech school, Marsh sat with the rest of his class inside Kresge Auditorium where the cohort learned their mission was to “learn enough that you can help solve problems.”
He took it seriously, and early into his profession was on the ground floor of the computer industry.
In the late ‘60s, Marsh worked on the instrumentation for the OAO-2 satellite. The system he helped develop was later instrumental in assisting the first successful mission to the moon, Marsh says.
“That system that I did was also back up for the main communication system on the lunar lander when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin went to the moon and the IBM system crashed, and my system cut in,” Marsh says.
Although his work has helped humans land foot on alien soil, Marsh stays grounded.
To resolve his neighbors’ high cost of watering large expanses of turf in his subdivision, he developed a test strip of sustainable xeriscape nearby. Desert Cedars does not have access to reclaimed water for its landscaping, and is instead forced to use expensive drinking water.
After three years, the experiment worked and now Desert Cedars will convert several acres of grass to granite gravel and decorative desert plants.
But Marsh’s vision for Maricopa expands beyond that of his neighborhood, of course.
Prior to P&Z, Marsh was on the Board of Adjustment with the city and was later a heavy contributor to Maricopa’s 20/40 Vision General Plan Update, a document outlining the city’s future direction and growth. He then served on the Zoning Code Rewrite Taskforce, also known to Marsh as “440 pages of pure pain.”
Additionally, his work on the Multicultural Consortium advocates for a legitimate senior center in the city.
“The senior problem is one problem. Watering your turf with potable water is another problem. If you add it all up, you have 347 problems,” Marsh says with a smile. “I’m a problem solver.”
This story appears in the December issue of InMaricopa.