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City of Maricopa

Apex Motor Club, owned by Private Motorsports Group, wants to open a private track in Maricopa.

Lawyers representing the private racetrack Apex have filed a complaint against a political action Committee that took Apex to court.

The complaint, filed with the City of Maricopa by the lawfirm of Coppersmith-Brockleman, targets the group that took both the city and Apex to court in recent months regarding the company’s planned racetrack in Maricopa.

In the complaint, attorneys representing Apex argue the group known as Maricopa Citizens Protecting Taxpayers, acting as a political action committee, broke Arizona state election law when officers failed to file campaign finance reports.

By not filing a campaign finance report in both July and October of 2017, the complaint says, MCPT violated A.R.S. 16-927 and 16-927 in not disclosing who paid for the “disbursement” of funds used to pay for “petition circulation and litigation that should have been captured on such reports.”

Second, the complaint says, the committee further violated state law A.R.S. 16-906(B)(1)(b) when it failed to identify in its name its “sponsor’s name or commonly known nickname.”

“As a consequence, the Committee never registered and properly formed as a committee, and has been improperly operating in the city,” the complaint says.

According to the complaint, “the Committee is clearly the brain child and outsourced operation of Mr. Erickson.”

During a hearing regarding another lawsuit filed against the city and Apex by Maricopa resident Bonita Burks, lawyers for Burks denied allegations claiming that Dan Erickson and his company – Danrick Builders – are behind the Burks lawsuit.

However, in a Sept. 26 letter to the Maricopa city attorney, Burks’ lead counsel, former Arizona Attorney General Grant Woods said both Burks and Erickson wish to settle the matter.

“This letter is to confirm that the parties currently opposing the Apex development are, and have been, willing to discuss settling this matter in an amicable way,” Woods wrote. “I have spoken to Ms. Burks and with Daniel Erickson to get his feedback on an approach to put this controversy to rest.”

Erickson also mentioned Burks in an Oct. 10 letter to Pinal Central, claiming it was never Burks’ intention to “prevent Apex from opening; they merely wanted more due diligence done and proper procedures followed in processing the conditional use permit.”

Because of this connection, Apex attorneys believe they have evidence of collusion between Erickson and the two opposition parties that filed separate suits against the city and Apex.

“Indeed, it is now clear that the Committee’s activities were but one piece of a comprehensive strategy employed by Danrick and its principal, Mr. Erickson,” the complaint states.

A Pinal County Superior Robert Olson originally issued a judgment in favor of MCPT Aug. 9. However, both the Arizona Court of Appeals and the state Supreme Court latter sided with the city and Apex, tossing out the lower court’s ruling.

In Burks’ case, a Sept. 13 judgment by Olson ruled her suit lacked “standing.”

Burks filed an appeal Nov. 1 and is awaiting judgement.

“As with its failure to file timely campaign finance reports,” the Apex complaint says, “the effect of the Committee’s noncompliance with governing campaign finance laws serves only to conceal from the people of the City the identity of those who have meddled in its administrative affairs at great expense.”

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Photo by Michelle Chance

The city has extended its contract with the third-party transit service to continue operating the City of Maricopa Express Transit fleet, better known as COMET.

Maricopa City Council voted Tuesday to extend the contract with Total Transit Enterprises for another three years of service, costing the city $781,000 over the life of the contract.

In 2020, Total Transit will also have an option to renew with one-year contracts for up to two years after the new contract’s expiration.

Maricopa Transit Planner David Maestas said the only increase in cost is marginal. At 3 percent, the increase is included due to cost-of-living increases and inflation.

Maestas said the city prefers to keep a third-party as its transit operator because costs associated with public transit can quickly become overwhelming,

“One, you have to have a dedicated facility for the transit fleet, the city would them become responsible for the hiring of drivers and dispatchers,” Maestas said. “On top of that you would have to have a full-time operations manager.”

Those expenses can become daunting even in larger cities like Phoenix, he said.

“More and more cities that have owned transit themselves are going to contract providers,” he said.

“Same is true with Phoenix and Valley Metro.”

The bulk of the expense will be paid for with Transportation grant money – roughly $472,000. The remaining $309,000 will be covered out of the general fund which is accounted for each year the city’s budget is developed.

City documents show the contract is “contingent upon council budget approval” each year for fiscal years 2018, 2019 and 2020.

Photo by Anita McLeod

It’s that time of the year again, when Maricopans get dressed up, act goofy and mingle with the community. No, not Halloween. It’s the Maricopa Mud Run.

IF YOU GO
What: Maricopa Mud Run
When: Oct. 28, 7 a.m.
Where: Copper Sky Regional Park, 44345 W. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
How Much: $25 to $45
Info: maricopa-az.gov/web/mud-run

This year the run comes with a few changes that should have everyone’s inner-child running wild.

The first, and arguably the most important, change is the theme. This year, all challengers are being asked to “awaken your inner hero” by dressing up as their favorite superhero.

A contest will be hosted prior to the run. The best dressed team or individual will walk away with event swag, and adults and teenagers who finish the race in their costume earn a limited addition Mud Run Cape and T-shirt.

Kids who finish the Mini-Copa Mud Run will get “an awesome bag of treats.”

The course itself is undergoing changes, too, including new obstacles.

Mud Run organizer Matthew Reiter said the course is shorter, but participants will have to complete two filthy, inner-hero-awakening, zip-line gliding, ego-boosting laps. (Kids running the Mini-Copa Mud Run will complete one lap.) Competitors will also be grouped by age and sent off in heats to “help make things a little more evenly matched.”

Photo by Victor Moreno

Reiter also tweaked the Mayor’s Challenge: “This year we decided we want to see more teamwork and community in this event, so we made the Mayor’s Challenge a two-person team challenge.”

Any two-person team that beats the time set by Mayor Christian Price and his “highly motivated” mystery partner will win commemorative coins.

Parks Manager and Mud Run co-organizer Mike Riggs said the 20 or so obstacles will include a few new surprises this year, including obstructions dubbed “Chill-out” and “Plenty of Fish.”


This story appears in the October issue of InMaricopa.

Photo by Anita McLeod

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Age-Friendly Maricopa Advisory Committee
The purpose of the Age-Friendly Committee is to help “connect people 60 years plus with people of all ages in order to decrease social isolation and to increase access to services, social opportunities and recreation.” Meetings are usually held at City Hall the Monday of the month at 4 p.m.
(Members: Lynn Bernier, Andy Lockridge, Joan Koczor, Carol Machovec, Viola Najar, Thomas Rein, Scott Summers)

Board of Adjustment
The seven-member Board of Adjustment is designed to “review and approve or deny variances from zoning ordinance requirements and administrative decisions which create hardships in the development of property due to exceptional or extraordinary conditions.” With such a specific purpose, the BOA meets on an as-needed basis, typically on a Tuesday or Thursday evening at City Hall.
(Members: Greg Campbell, Richard Vitiello, Dean Tevault, Gary Miller, Thaddeus Holland, Christopher Shoemaker, Rachel Leffall)

Cultural Affairs Advisory Committee
The seven Cultural Affairs Advisory Committee members are tasked with helping “promote an environment that fosters diversity and inclusion within Maricopa.” Regular meetings are typically held the last Thursday of every month, and special meetings are held to address important, time-sensitive matters. Their meetings usually take place at City Hall, with special meetings sometimes happening at Copper Sky Recreation Center.
(Members: Cynthia Portrey, Joanna Vanderpool, Ammar Abed, Constance Jackson, Joann Vitiello, Chrystal O’Jon, Grace Robinson)

Heritage District Citizen Advisory Committee
The seven-member Heritage District Advisory Committee is responsible for bolstering the success of the Heritage District Area Plan. The group assists and advises the city council on issues relating to the city’s historical neighborhoods. They meet on the second Thursday of the month.
(Members: Don Pearce, Lucia Rodriguez, John Stapleton, Brian Foose, Melodee Breazeale, Renate Chamberlin)

Parks, Recreation and Libraries Committee
The seven members of the Parks, Recreation and Libraries Committee assist the Community Services Department in developing quality programs to meet the community’s recreational needs. They help with general park design to the planning of special events. The committee meets on the last Wednesday of every month, typically at City Hall.
(Members: Kristena Dugan, Rebecca Check, Albert Brandenburg, Shelley McClaren, Lucinda Boyd, Diane Morrow)

Planning and Zoning Commission
The seven-member Planning and Zoning Commission “reviews and makes recommendations on various projects and applications made to the city for legislative action by the city council.” This commission plays an integral role in the community’s development. The P&Z Commission usually meets at City Hall the second Monday of the month.
(Members: Ted Yocum, Linda Huggins, Bob Marsh, Bryon Joyce, James Irving, Leon Potter, Michael Sharpe)

Veterans Affairs Committee
The Veterans Affairs Committee is made up of seven members, both veteran and non-veteran, who help provide area veterans and their families access to resources and benefits information. They help with the “preparation of forms and supporting documentation,” and organize “support events and activities that honor veterans and active military personnel.” Meetings most often occur on the last Tuesday or Thursday of the month.
(Members: Bree Lyons, Jennifer Scribner, Derek Jeske, Tracy Davis, Marc Montgomery, DeMone DeMar)

Youth Council
The Youth Council is comprised of local teenagers who advise city council and various city departments on activities and resources available to teens.
(Members: Teenage students appointed by city council every year)

 

Other Boards Commissions & Committees
Budget, Finance and Opportunities Council Subcommittee
Industrial Development Authority Board
Marketing and Communications Council Subcommittee
Merit Board
Personnel and Benefits Council Subcommittee
Public Safety Personnel Retirement System Board
Transportation Committee
Youth Internship

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Maricopa City Council: (seated, from left) Vice Mayor Marvin Brown, Mayor Christian Price, Councilmember Peggy Chapados; (standing) Councilmembers Nancy Smith, Henry Wade, Julia Gusse and Vincent Manfredi (City of Maricopa photo)

City of Maricopa
39700 W. Civic Center Plaza
520-568-9098
Maricopa-AZ.gov

Mayor
Christian Price
520-316-6821
Christian.Price@maricopa-az.gov

City Council

Vice Mayor Marvin L. Brown
520-316-2020
Marvin.Brown@maricopa-az.gov

Councilmember Peggy Chapados
520-316-3826
Peggy.Chapados@maricopa-az.gov

Councilmember Vincent Manfredi
520-316-6823
Vincent.Manfredi@maricopa-az.gov

Councilmember Nancy Smith|
520-316-6822
Nancy.Smith@maricopa-az.gov

Councilmember Julia Gusse
520-568-9098
Julia.Gusse@maricopa-az.gov

Councilmember Henry Wade
520-316-6825
Henry.Wade@maricopa-az.gov

Pinal County

Sheriff
Mark Lamb
971 Jason Lopez Circle, Building C, Florence
520-866-5997
PinalCountyAZ.gov/Sheriff

County Attorney
Kent Volkmer
30 N. Florence St, Building D, Florence
520-866-6271
PinalCountyAttorney@PinalCountyAZ.gov
PinalCountyAZ.gov/CountyAttorney

Justice of the Peace – Precinct 8 (Maricopa/Stanfield)
Lyle Riggs
19955 N. Wilson Ave.
520-866-3999
PinalCountyAZ.gov/Judicial

Constable – Precinct 8 (Maricopa/Stanfield)
Bret Roberts
19955 N. Wilson Ave
520-840-5294
Bret.Roberts@pinalcountyaz.gov

Assessor
Douglas Wolf
31 N. Pinal St, Building E, Florence
520-866-6353
Assessor@PinalCountyAZ.gov
PinalCountyAZ.gov/Assessor

Recorder
Virginia Ross
31 N. Pinal St, Building E, Florence
520-866-6830
Recorder@PinalCountyAZ.gov
PinalCountyAZ.gov/Recorder

Board of Supervisors
135 N. Pinal St, Building A, Florence
520-866-6220
PinalCountyAZ.gov/BOS

Supervisor Anthony Smith [District 4, Maricopa] 41600 W. Smith-Enke Road, Suite 128
520-866-3960
Anthony.Smith@PinalCountyAZ.gov

Supervisor Pete Rios [District 1] 520-866-7830
Pete.Rios@PinalCountyAZ.gov

Supervisor Mike Goodman [District 2] 520-866-8080
Mike.Goodman@PinalCountyAZ.gov

Supervisor Stephen Miller [District 3] 520-866-7401
Steve.Miller@PinalCountyAZ.gov

Supervisor Todd House [District 5] 480-982-0659
Todd.House@PinalCountyAZ.gov

State of Arizona

Governor
Doug Ducey
1700 W. Washington St., Phoenix
Phone (Phoenix): 602-542-4331
Phone (Tucson): 520-628-6580
Engage@az.gov
AZGovernor.gov

State Legislators

Steve Smith – State Senator – District 11 (Maricopa)
1700 W. Washington St, Room 33, Phoenix
602-926-5685
AZLeg.gov

Mark Finchem – State Representative – District 11 (Maricopa)
1700 W. Washington St, Room 129, Phoenix
602-926-3122
AZLeg.gov

Vince Leach – State Representative – District 11 (Maricopa)
1700 W. Washington St, Room 226, Phoenix
Phone: 602-926-3106
AZLeg.gov

Secretary of State
Michelle Reagan
Office of the Secretary of State
1700 W. Washington St., 7th Floor, Phoenix
1-800-458-5842
AZSOS.gov

Attorney General
Mark Brnovich
1275 W. Washington St., Phoenix
602-542-5025
AZAG.gov

State Treasurer
Jeff Dewit
1700 W. Washington St, 1st Floor, Phoenix
Phone: 602-542-7800
877-365-8310
AZTreasury.gov

State Mine Inspector
Joe Heart
1700 W. Washington St, 4th Floor, Phoenix
602-542-5971
ASMI.az.gov

State Superintendent of Public Instruction
Diane Douglas
1535 W. Jefferson St., Phoenix
800-352-4558
adeinbox@azed.gov
AZED.gov/superintendent

Corporation Commission
1200 W. Washington St, Commissioners Wing, 2nd Floor, Phoenix
AZCC.gov

Chairman Tom Forese
602-542-3933
foresee-web@azcc.gov

Commissioner Bob Burns
602-542-3682
rburns-web@azcc.gov

Commissioner Doug Little
602-542-0742
little-web@azcc.gov

Commissioner Andy Tobin
602-542-3625
tobin-web@azcc.gov

Commissioner Boyd W. Dunn
602-542-3935
dunn-web@azcc.gov

U.S. Congress
Tom O’Halleran –  U.S. Representative – U.S. House District 1
126 Cannon House Office Building, Washington, D.C.
202-225-3361
211 N. Florence St, Suite 1, Casa Grande
520-316-0839
3037 W. Ina Road, Suite 101, Tucson
928-304-0131
OHalleran.house.gov

John McCain – U.S. Senator
Washington Office:
218 Russell Senate Office Building, Washington, D.C.
202-224-2235
2201 E. Camelback Road, Suite 115, Phoenix
602-952-2410
407 W. Congress St, Suite 103, Tucson
520-670-6334
McCain.senate.gov

Jeff Flake – U.S. Senator
Senate Russell Office Building 413, Washington, D.C.
202-224-4521
2200 E. Camelback Road, Suite 120, Phoenix
602-840-1891
6840 N. Oracle Road, Suite 150, Tucson
520-575-8633
Flake.senate.gov

President of the United States

Donald Trump
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, D.C.
Phone (White House Switchboard): 202-456-1111
Phone (Comments): 202-456-1414
Phone (TTY/TTD): 202-456-6213
Phone (Visitors Office): 202-456-2121
WhiteHouse.gov

Apex Motor Club, owned by Private Motorsports Group, wants to open a private track in Maricopa.

Players in a high-profile case against the City of Maricopa presented arguments Monday in a Pinal County courtroom, during which it was alleged by the defense that the plaintiff was paid to file the complaint.

The suit, filed by attorneys Grant Woods and Michael Riikola on behalf of Rancho El Dorado resident Bonita Burks, argues the city improperly granted a conditional use permit to Private Motorsports Group, a company wanting to build a private racetrack on the outskirts of the city under the name Apex Motor Club.

During the hearing Evan Bolick, counsel for the defense, alleged Burks was “being paid” by an unnamed entity to be the plaintiff in this case.

Burks is the owner of Sign Here Petitions, a signature-gathering company Bolick said was enlisted by another organization – Maricopa Citizens Protecting Tax Payers –  to gather signatures for a petition seeking a referendum on the same permit. Bolick provided no proof of his allegation.

Presiding Judge Robert Olson struck the comments from the official record based on what Woods argued was “defamation, per se.”

Burks’ suit is the second filed against the city over the Apex permit. Maricopa Citizens Protecting Taxpayers was first to sue the city and Private Motorsports Group, regarding the permit, after city officials declined to forward their petition for referendum to the Pinal County Recorder’s Office.

In August, a Pinal County judge ruled in favor of the organization, forcing the city to forward the signatures. The city, while simultaneously filing to initiate the referendum, also filed an appeal. And, on Sept. 6, an Arizona appellate court overturned the Pinal County ruling.

The Court of Appeals has yet to release its full formal opinion on the appeal.

Maricopa Citizens Protecting Taxpayers fired back by filing motions with the Arizona Supreme Court. A ruling is expected in that case before Sept. 14, the final day the referendum can be canceled.

Burks’ suit specifically alleges the city improperly interpreted zoning codes in granting the permit to the track, which her suit alleges will “result in, among other things, significantly increased noise, odors, dust, gas and smoke emanating from the property, all of which uniquely and negatively affect Plaintiff’s [Burks] use and enjoyment of her property.”

To the idea of the track “uniquely” affecting her, the defense argued there needed to be evidence of “special damages or peculiar harm” done against Burks specifically. If they did indeed exist, these types of effects – noise, odors, gas, smoke – they argued, are “generalized,” affecting the entire community and not just her.

Burks lives more than five miles from the proposed private track.

The defense further argued these “general damages” were already assessed by the city during the permit application process with sound, traffic and engineering studies that claim the effects would be negligible.

The suit further argues the city had no right to sign an emergency ordinance that pushed the issue to the soonest possible election, hence the accelerated timeline with appeals.

“Let’s just call it what it is, it’s not an emergency,” Woods argued, saying they simply didn’t want to stifle development.

The defense argued in response that the city, according to legal precedent, had every right to create an emergency ordinance.

Olson anticipates filing his decision by Sept. 13, one day before the Arizona Supreme Court is expected to hand down its ruling on the first case. It is also one day before the city will have its last chance to cancel the referendum.

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Daranne Tacker, Employee Award of Excellence

The City of Maricopa presented Awards of Excellence to outstanding employees during Tuesday’s regular meeting of the council.

Non-Manager
Daranne Tacker, Smartgov System Analyst

“Since her re-hire more than a year ago with the City, Daranne has tackled her position with a vengeance, learning a new system, training co-workers, studying for certifications, all while displaying excellent customer service. Daranne is always courteous and patient with customers who come into City Hall as well as on the phone. Her service to the public, dedication, hard work, and contributions to the SmartGov program are an asset to Development Services and the positive image she portrays for the City of Maricopa.”

Mid-Management
Adriana Carpio, Deputy City Clerk

“Adriana is an exceptional employee worthy of this award. She provides exceptional customer service to both our internal and external customers. She is very reliable and dependable. She always helps everyone with a positive attitude, a smile on her face and most importantly for our department, with high ethical standards. Adriana is committed to the job, the organization and the community and I am honored to nominate her for this award. She is a true asset to the City Clerk’s Office and most importantly, the City of Maricopa.”

Part-Time
Robert Eberwein, Maintenance Worker

“Robert takes on a great deal of responsibility as a p/t staff member. He keeps the pool up and running over the weekends. Because of his construction background, Robert takes on minor construction, painting and remodeling projects at Copper Sky Facilities during off hours allowing minimal interruption to members and park patrons. If park maintenance staff is shorthanded on Sundays, Robert has no problems jumping in a helping with trash & litter, getting ballfields prepped and/or Ramada’s ready for a rental. Robert has a great attitude about his work, Copper Sky and the City. If any issues arise, Robert’s knowledge and quick learning skills has made him the go-to person on Sundays.”

Public Safety
Josh Eads, Fire Engineer (Not Present)

“Josh has demonstrated outstanding performance and dedication in helping the Fire Department with public safety awareness and wildland firefighting. Josh Eads has been involved with the Fire Pal organization since its inception in 2009. Since then he has been appointed program coordinator and has chaired the position since 2012. During his tenure, the Fire-Pals program has expanded to all public and private schools within the City. He was also successful in implementing Water Safety Week for first graders using a curriculum provided by the Phoenix Children’s Hospital. As Chair and coordinator for the Wildland Urban Interface program, Engineer Eads is responsible for in-house training, outfitting, and state compliance of our 13 wildland firefighters.”

Apex Motor Club wants to race personal sports cars at a private track in Maricopa, but legal battles with a political action committee and a resident have delayed development.

Parties involved in a lawsuit against the City of Maricopa and planned private racetrack Apex Motor Club offered their opinions Thursday about the recent court ruling against the City.

Representatives from Apex’s parent company, Private Motorsports Group, and the City both expressed frustration with the Pinal County Court ruling. Neither was overly discouraged.

Mayor Christian Price said the city is moving forward and will consider every legal option available.

“I think certainly we’re disappointed, but we’ll look at our options, including appeal,” Price said.

Wednesday, Judge Robert Olson ruled the City’s action in approving a conditional use permit for Apex was legislative and not administrative and, therefore, subject to referendum. If necessary, the election is in November and is mail-in, with the ballot issue labeled Prop. 418.

The city is taking a cautious approach, preparing for the worst but hoping for the best, Price said. Their plan is to simultaneously initiate and follow the appeal process while they also prepare for the election.

“We’re doing both at the same time so we’ll be in compliance either way,” Price said.

Price further expressed frustration with the ideological contradictions of the organization that filed the suit – Maricopa Citizens Protecting Taxpayers.

“It’s terribly ironic and frankly I think it’s a little deceptive to the Maricopa citizen and to the voting public,” Price said. “I think it’s unfortunate that they’re going to pretend that they’re protecting the taxpayers in one fashion, but then spend upwards of $30,000 [on an election] that the taxpayer, by law, has to pay for.”

Public support for the Apex project has been seen on social media despite the lawsuits. During public hearings prior to the City’s issuing of the questioned permit, very few individuals spoke against the project.

Apex Vice President Matt Williams said a judgment like this was always a possibility and they are prepared to take the appropriate legal actions that will ensure the success of the project. The City of Maricopa has shown APEX overwhelming support, he said, and this ruling has not swayed them in the slightest.

“The one thing we’re confident of is our support from the city,” Williams said. “And we are 100 percent committed to seeing this through in Maricopa.”

Wednesday’s court ruling won’t automatically direct the matter to a referendum. Instead, it only overturns the city’s denial of the plaintiff’s Petition for Referendum, ordering the City Clerk’s Office to forward the petitions to the Pinal County Recorder. A 5-percent “random sample” of the signatures will be verified, and, depending on the outcome, the county will decide whether the matter will move to the ballot.

A second lawsuit was recently filed against the City and PMG, this time by Maricopa resident Bonita Burks.

The lawsuit cites much of what is in the previous suit, though it further challenges an ordinance (17-07) created by the city in response to MCPT’s petition for referendum. If forced to a referendum, the ordinance says the matter must be directed to the soonest possible election. That ordinance puts the pending election on the Apex matter this year rather than November 2018.

Hearing dates have not yet been scheduled for the second suit.

Neither MCPT President Robert Rebich nor Burks has returned requests for comment.

Photo by Mason Cajellas

A Pinal County judge has ruled against the City of Maricopa in a lawsuit filed recently regarding the City’s issuing of conditional use permit to Private Motorsports Group for the proposed APEX Motor Club.

The decision could force a special election in November. Read the ruling

Judge Robert Olson issued the decision Wednesday siding with the plaintiff — Maricopa Citizens Protecting Taxpayers — and ordering the city to forward signatures gathered by the plaintiff for a referendum seeking to force the permit issue to a public vote.

The city previously denied the petition and refused to forward the signatures to the Pinal County Recorder, arguing the matter was “administrative” rather than “legislative.” If signatures are verified by the recorder’s office, Maricopa residents will vote on the issue in 90 days.

“Whether the new code preserved the right to apply for an industrial use permit or if the City Council made a policy decision to restore that right, the court finds the grant of the use permit is a legislative action and, therefore, subject to referendum,” Olson wrote in his decision.

Citing the direct power vested in the City Council by the former code, Olson declared the action legislative.

“The old code empowers the City Council to exercise its authority to approve such a permit directly, as it did, while relegating the Planning and Zoning Commission to an advisory role,” Olson wrote. “The Court observes that the effect of this exercise of discretion is similar in magnitude and character to a zoning decision.”

The Maricopa City Clerk’s office has been ordered to forward all signatures to the county recorder for verification.

The City of Maricopa and Apex President Jason Plotke are in a court battle with a political action committee over the proposed motorsports facility's zoning.

Arguments for or against a private motor facility in Maricopa are due by 5 p.m. tomorrow, pending a judge’s ruling.

In a statement Tuesday, the city said it will refer the Maricopa City Council’s approval of a conditional use permit (CUP 17-01) for Apex Motor Club to the November election. City Clerk Vanessa Bueras said it is only a contingency, and Superior Court Presiding Judge Stephen F. McCarville has not yet ruled. His decision is expected shortly.

However, arguments on the potential ballot issue must be submitted 90 days before the election. That puts the deadline at 5 p.m. Aug. 9.

Bueras said the City opted to post the call today, “so folks have at least 24 hours” to submit for and against arguments if it does go to a special election.

The CUP granted to Private Motorsports Group for the construction of a private motorsports facility called Apex, was challenged in June by an organization called Maricopa Citizens Protecting Taxpayers, which filed a lawsuit against the city.

The organization’s stated goal is to force the CUP decision to a public vote.

“Referendum 17-01 seeks to refer Maricopa City Council’s approval of Conditional Use Permit case number CUP 17-01, approving a motorsports facility at a 280-acre site at the northwest corner of Ralston Road and State Route 238,” the city’s statement says.

The city is awaiting the judge’s decision after a Pinal County Superior Court hearing Friday, during which MCPT presented arguments against the city’s decision to deny their petition for referendum.

Unhappy with the city’s decision to grant the permit, MCPT petitioned the city for a referendum and was denied on the basis that the decision was an “administrative and not legislative” act.

“Any arguments related to this item will be included inside an informational pamphlet, which will be mailed to each household containing a registered voter,” the statement says.

The arguments must be submitted to the Maricopa City Clerk’s Office at City Hall, 39700 W. Civic Center Plaza.

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Expected and unexpected traffic delays have resulted from prep work near the intersection of Sate Route 347 and Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway.

Though groundbreaking for the construction of the overpass is expected in autumn, preparation work has been obvious along John Wayne Parkway from Hathaway Avenue to Alterra Parkway. That has already impacted traffic, and the City of Maricopa launched a webpage to keep residents apprised of road activity.

OverpassTracker.com offers updates and maps and links to the project page hosted by Arizona Department of Transportation.

Work this spring included relocating utility lines on portions of State Route 347, Honeycutt Road and Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway. Workers moved the fire administration building off its site in the path of the overpass to its temporary location on Edison Road. Parking shelters were also removed. Much of the work affecting traffic was done at night, but some utility work unexpectedly clogged daytime traffic as well.

The overpass webpage and a hotline (520-316-6910) were created to keep citizens informed of such changes.

The $50 million project creates six lanes on a bridge over the Union Pacific Railroad tracks to relieve the convergence of more than 31,000 cars and 40 trains a day.

Crews did night work to lessen some of the impact on traffic flow. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

This article appears in the July issue of InMaricopa.

Vintage Partners is planning on breaking ground at Edison Pointe this summer. Photo by Mason Callejas

A long-awaited commercial retail project could be weeks away from breaking ground, according to both city officials and key players in the project’s development. The plan is to have a major clothing retailer, gym, multiple new restaurants and various other stores that could create 100 jobs or more in Maricopa by spring.

The dirt lot south of Fry’s Marketplace has changed hands a few times since the city slated the land for commercial development more than 10 years ago. Now, the area known as Edison Pointe is in the final stages of gestation, according to Casey Treadwell, leasing director at Vintage Partners the development group in charge of the project.

“After a lot of work and a lot of marketing over the past four or five years, we are moving forward with the project, pending our final construction loan approval,” Treadwell said. “We’re in line to have that in approximately three weeks, and we’ll start construction within a week after that.”

Despite losing one of its larger prospects – Petco – Vintage is hoping to commence construction at Edison Pointe by the end of July.

“We really hoped that we could get it done by the end of this year,” Treadwell said. “When trying to sign the leases for the tenants, which is required for the loan, we just kept running into roadblocks.”

The process of development is not an easy one, city Economic Development Director Denyse Airheart said during a Maricopa Advocate Program meeting Thursday. Maricopa being so young and constrained in so many ways, it can be difficult, she said, to attract and solidify new development.

To Airheart, Edison Pointe is a milestone of sorts, which means job creation and economic growth. She praised Vintage for its efforts and willingness to take the chance on Maricopa.

“These guys [Vintage] have been aggressively trying to find tenants for the site,” Airheart said.

And, despite losing Petco, she said, “Vintage Partners believes in the project and believes that they will be able to attract another user to that site.”

There are still a few financial ducks to align before the project begins. However, both Treadwell and Airheart are confident in saying the project will soon be moving forward.

An exact date has not been set for groundbreaking. And though Treadwell could not speak to the opening of the individual businesses, he said Maricopans should be able to anticipate the project being completed in spring of 2018.

Signed tenants include Ross, Goodwill and Planet Fitness. Businesses in escrow for, or already in ownership of, property at the site include Dunkin Donuts, Brakes Plus and Burger King.

The lot south of Fry’s Marketplace has been slow to develop but now leases are being signed. Photo by Mason Callejas

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City staff worked on creating a new city seal for nearly a year. Behind is the black-and-white version.

The fate of Maricopa’s public image was set Tuesday after the city council voted to approve a new city seal they hope will help rebrand the city.

The seal had come before the council several times over the year as councilmembers changed its design. The unanimous decision in favor of the new design came after a member of the council made one last consideration about an overlooked design previously used on the city planning webpage.

Councilmember Nancy Smith brought up the idea of using the older design due to concerns she had with the intricacy of the new design and how it would look when reproduced in a smaller size. Using an example printed in the Maricopa Monitor, Smith expressed concern that the new design may be illegible.

The older design, she said, succeeded in encompassing the characteristics of the city while also keeping it simple enough to look good in multiple forms.

“It has fewer things happening, but the same concept,” Smith said. “It incorporates the City, it incorporates agriculture, it incorporates the hand which to me kind of says ‘come along, come to Maricopa’.”

Some members of the council responded with indifference to Smith’s concerns, while others expressed eagerness to put the eight-month process behind them.

Councilmember Henry Wade suggested newsprint was probably not the best material on which to judge the new design, and said he was ready to approve the new design as is.

Nancy Smith suggested a seal similar to that used in the Planning Department.

“That last time we had this conversation I was comfortable with moving forward the way that [the new design] was,” Wade said. “I’m still comfortable with moving forward.”

Though not present during much of the early conversation, Councilmember Julie Gusse did voice her support for the new design, which she considered meaningful.

“You have the cotton fields, you have the train,” Gusse said. “That’s two things the other [older/existing] design doesn’t have.”

She also voiced admiration for the incorporation of family silhouettes and a pecan tree that has historical importance to Maricopa.

None of the councilmembers supported Smith’s alternative design, or expressed objections against the new design.

In the end, Smith reversed her stance and voted with her colleagues to approve the new seal.

The design approval means the city will likely be able to carry a flag baring the new seal to the August meeting of the League of Arizona Cities and Towns.

Veterans are invited to the Maricopa Veterans Town Hall & Resource Fair on Thursday, March 30, at City Hall.

Veterans will be able to access resources and tools they need to succeed for themselves and for their family, all under one roof. The event is sponsored by Councilwoman Julia Gusse in conjunction with Maricopa American Legion Post 133, Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 12043, VET IT, Vet’s Community Connections and Blue Star Moms of Maricopa.

What: Maricopa Veterans Town Hall & Resource Fair
When: Thursday, March 30 from 5-8 p.m.
Where: City Hall at 39700 W. Civic Center Plaza
Who: All Veterans and their families are invited

Veterans are asked to bring their ID and DD214 to meet with one of the on-site Veterans Administration Representatives to find out about their benefits and get answers on their questions and concerns.

From 5-6 p.m. the Director of the Phoenix VA and the Director of the Arizona Department of Veteran Services will give an in person presentation on medical and general services available to veterans in our area and will answer questions from attendees.

This event will feature a variety of Maricopa and Pinal County service providers ready to help including:

Against Abuse
American Legion Auxiliary
American Legion Post 133
Arizona at Work, Pinal County
Arizona Department of Veterans’ Services
Blue Star Moms
Boy Scouts
CAHRA
Copper Sky
Department of Economic Security
Eagle One
Goodwill (Veteran Employment)
Helping/Hiring/ Honoring our Heroes
Maricopa Fire Department
Maricopa Police Department
Maricopa Police Explorers
Microsoft Chandler Store
Sun Life
The Veterans Directory (Any Veteran Need)
Vets’ Community Connections
VET IT
VFW
Wounded Warrior Project

For additional information please contact:
Sara Delgadillo at 520-316-6827 or Sara.Delgadillo@maricopa-az.gov.

A trip to the Grand Canyon has been among the adventures organized by the City of Maricopa's M.O.R.E.E. program. Submitted photo

By Misty Newman

Misty Newman
Misty Newman

Are you looking for more opportunities to be active outdoors? Perhaps you want to go hiking or explore more of Arizona, but don’t know where to start. Since January 2016, the Maricopa Outdoor Recreation and Environmental Education (M.O.R.E.E) program at Copper Sky has taken people on outdoor adventures and other cultural trips.

From hikes to Cibeque Creek to family campouts, there has been something for everyone. This program was initiated by Joshua Bowman, who has an extensive background in outdoor education and has started similar programs in the past. M.O.R.E.E has grown during the year with more people attending and available seats being filled.

“Our goal for this program is to help people have a greater love for nature and get them happier and healthier,” Bowman said.

He plans different types of trips for varying levels of fitness and availability.

Popular trips have included Utah National Parks, Havasupai and Tonto Natural Bridge to name a few. The five-day trip to Havasupai was one of the most successful, with all 10 spots filling immediately.

Trips that do not require high mobility are on Tuesdays. These include day trips to places like Tombstone, Musical Instrument Museum and the Canyon Lake Dolly Boat Tour.

Some of these programs are for families as well. With the Family Campout, kids and parents can have a fun evening of s’mores, scavenger hunts and setting up camp in the park.

There is a mandatory preparation workshop that covers all details of the trip and what to expect. If you don’t have gear, the program has you covered. The gear is included in the trip fee. Gear includes the backpack, tent, sleeping bag, sleeping pad and headlamp. Also included in the price are transportation and all park entry fees.

Bowman said he has seen a positive impact on the Maricopa community.

Submitted photo
Submitted photo

“We do post trip surveys which indicate people are super excited about the program and have a fantastic time on the trips,” Bowman said. “The next trip has eight people signed up, and all eight are past participants.”

For those who are interested in the outdoors and/or in leading others in the outdoors, there is a trip leader program that provides extensive training and certifications. According to Bowman, the goal is to get 6-10 trained trip leaders. They will assist him on the trips and can go at no additional cost.

For Bowman, the best part of running the program is “seeing people experience something new.”

“I would like to see this program grow over the next 15-20 years,” Bowman said. “It would be cool to see kids who are involved now become trip leaders. This ties in with our long-term goals for families to develop a passion for the outdoors due to this program.”

APM.ActiveCommunities.com/CityOfMaricopaRec/Home

Misty Newman is the owner of Maricopa Outdoor Adventures.
MaricopaOutdoorAdventures.com


This column appears in the February issue of InMaricopa.

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Dale Wiebush

Following voters’ recent approval of the city’s new General Plan, Maricopa also welcomed a new intergovernmental affairs director this week.

Monday, after 10 years lobbying as a senior legislative associate at the League of Arizona Cities and Towns, Dale Wiebush assumed his new role with the city. He hopes to aid in developing the community and establishing the city as a power player at the state level.

Wiebush, a native Minnesotan, began his carrier in social services, where eventually his passions led him to move toward the lobbying profession.

“I worked in mental health treatment, with abused children,” Wiebush said. “Then I eventually got into the public policy side of that, and advocated on their behalf at the state capitol.”

For the past 19 years Wiebush has been living in Arizona representing domestic violence groups and local governments at the state Legislature.

Wiebush was first introduced to Maricopa through his position at the League of Arizona Cities and Towns, where he got to know Mayor Christian Price and former Intergovernmental Affairs Director Paul Jepson. It was those relationships that first offered Wiebush a taste of the community. However, it was a personal appreciation for Maricopa’s somewhat isolated nature and steady growing economy that drew him in.

“I looked at it as an opportunity to go into an area that was growing,” Wiebush said. “There are similarities between Maricopa and my hometown [Moorhead, Minnesota]; similarities in size and also the geographical distance from other communities.”

When considering the unique characteristics of Maricopa, Wiebush believes the city is poised to do great things.

“It’s big enough to have an impact on politics at the state level,” Wiebush said. “But it’s small enough to still be mobile.”

Though he’s not yet willing to provide exact details on his plans, Wiebush feels that a smart and balanced approach is fundamental in the development process, and that the new General Plan does well in outlining that growth.

Wiebush has an affinity for the outdoors and playing the guitar. He holds a bachelor of science degree in psychology from Gustavus Adolphus College.

The salary for his position is $110,000.

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Julia Gusse will again be on the Maricopa City Council, probably joined by sitting Vice Mayor Marvin Brown. Dan Frank and incumbent Bridger Kimball are trailing.

With a large number of ballots counted and votes tallied the city of Maricopa appears set for change in the coming years.

This election cycle, Maricopans had the chance to vote on four items that have the potential to alter the framework of their city. On the ballot were two local initiatives seeking approval and two city council seats needing to be filled.

In the race for the two council seats Vice Mayor Marvin Brown will apparently remain on the council.

If Brown maintains his lead he said he is happy to continue working to address issues concerning transportation and the flood plan, and that he will do whatever he can to bolster economic growth in the city.

“I’m honored and very grateful for their [Maricopa residents] support,” Brown said. “I look forward to working with the mayor and council and keep trying to bring as much business to Maricopa as we possibly can these next four years.”

Former council member Julia Gusse grabbed a strong early lead overall four candidates and is maintaining her ground with more than 900 votes over third place candidate Dan Frank. Gusse, too, is happy to return to the council and is elated that Maricopa residents have again chosen her.

“We’re excited, we worked hard and obviously the numbers show that,” Gusse said. “I’d like to make sure and get in a thank you for [voters’] support and having the confidence in me.”

Current council member Bridger Kimball is down nearly 1,200 votes behind Julia Gusse, and more than 500 votes behind Vice Mayor Brown.

Poll numbers show one of the initiatives, Prop. 415, the city’s new General Plan, will pass by a landslide of 81 percent. Maricopa Mayor Christian Price said because of their routine nature, city plans usually don’t see much opposition from constituents.

“You never take anything for granted in elections,” Price said. “But at the end of the day it’s a fairly benign thing.”

The second initiative, the education budget override for Maricopa Unified School District, started off behind but only by a slim margin of 96 votes. Maricopa City Council member and champion of the override Vincent Manfredi pointed out the city has attempted to pass similar overrides in the past but they have never started off so close.

“The override itself has been bombarded in Maricopa,” Manfredi said. “It failed numerous times in the past and it failed by a large margin.”

The override now appears to be leaning toward passage with a lead of more than 900 votes.

According to Arizona Secretary of State Director of Communications Matt Roberts there are nearly 53,500 outstanding provisional and early ballots in Pinal County being tallied.

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City of Maricopa Express Transit (COMET) has fixed and on-demand routes in Maricopa.

In the next 25 years, the Maricopa planning area is expected to add 90,000 new residents and 35,000 new jobs. This population growth is a 300 percent increase from today and with it comes increased demands on city facilities and services.

Travel in the Maricopa planning area will increase dramatically and proportionately with the anticipated population growth in the region. In support of sustainable growth and economic development, the City’s circulation system will need to keep pace.

Planning Maricopa is the guide of how the city intends to accommodate the anticipated growth in a way that meets the citizens’ vision for Maricopa. The Circulation & Connectivity Element is a critical component of Planning Maricopa and achieving the community’s vision for an integrated, citywide, regional, and multimodal transportation system that supports the other elements of the General Plan.

For example, the city would like to become “transit ready,” which means that the appropriate land uses are in place (i.e., higher density housing such as condo’s, townhomes, and apartments) along transportation corridors to meet the needed ridership levels that will support a new transit system, such as buses.

Based on input from citizens, the city has taken the approach to address transportation needs in an integrated manner across all modes of travel. This multimodal approach removes the emphasis on roadways and establishes the need to examine full integration of roadways, transit, bicycle paths and pedestrian facilities.

An integrated transportation system is vital to growing a self-sustaining local economy with a healthy, active, and connected population. Multimodal communities offer residents of all ages and abilities access to goods and services, jobs, and diverse housing options. The Circulation & Connectivity Element of the General Plan is the roadmap of how the city will keep pace with future population growth and expand multimodal opportunities for Maricopa’s residents, visitors, and businesses.employment-graph

To learn more about Planning Maricopa – Circulation & Connectivity Element, please click here. Maricopa Proposition 415 – Planning Maricopa is on the Nov. 8 General Election ballot and early voting begins on Oct. 12. All Maricopa registered voters are encouraged to learn about the ballot items before placing your vote. Visit www.planningmaricopa.com to view Proposition 415 in entirety and make an informed decision this November.

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Part 3

Historically, Maricopa was a transportation hub and continues to have a busy Amtrak station.
Historically, Maricopa was a transportation hub and continues to have a busy Amtrak station.

Dorothy Wolden and David Noble accept the Golden Prospector award. Submitted

The city of Maricopa has won a Golden Prospector award from the Arizona Association for Economic Development (AAED) for its “Business Beat” video series.

“Business Beat” is the year-round component of Maricopa’s Shop Local Program, designed to encourage residents to spend their dollars locally by raising awareness of Maricopa businesses.

The Golden Prospector Awards recognize excellence, innovation and creativity in economic development.

Overall, 11 Golden Prospector awards and seven awards of merit were presented at AAED’s fall forum in Flagstaff.

AAED, founded in 1974, has a mission to serve as Arizona’s unified voice advocating for responsible economic development through an effective program of professional education, public policy, and collaboration.

For more information on AAED, visit www.aaed.com or call (602) 240-2233.

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Brenda Hasler.

City Manager Gregory Rose has appointed Brenda Hasler Financial Services Director for the City of Maricopa.

In this role, Hasler is responsible for managing, supervising, and coordinating the activities of the Financial Services Department in the preparation of the operating budget and multi-year revenue and expenditure forecasts.

Hasler joined the City of Maricopa in July of 2015 as the Budget and Finance manager and served as the interim Financial Services director in December of 2015.

“I am pleased to have Brenda Hasler join our executive team,” Rose said. “Brenda has done a tremendous job preparing the 2016-17 budget and her more than 20 years of experience as a government auditor and accountant will be a tremendous asset to the City.”

The Financial Services director reports directly to the City Manager and administers, supervises and performs highly technical financial and accounting analysis of the City’s assets and liabilities. This position monitors and reports on City fixed asset investments and cash investment portfolio; administers the City’s debt portfolio, including new issuances, refundings and annual debt service. This position also oversees professional staff responsible for enterprise financial management and for completing various sections of the City’s Comprehensive Annual Financial Report.

“It is both an honor and a privilege to have the opportunity to start a new challenge with the City of Maricopa,” Hasler said. “I am excited and looking forward to being part of a solid management team and continuing to strengthen the financial foundation of the City.”

Maricopa hosted the 12th annual Salsa Festival at Copper Sky Regional Park on March 19.

How do you like your salsa? Search out your favorite on Saturday at the annual Salsa Festival in Maricopa.

Maricopa City Hall will be busy this week, but the big event for the week – even the year – is Saturday’s Salsa Festival at Copper Sky. For details on these events and others, or to add your own, visit InMaricopa.com/Calendar.

SUNDAY-SATURDAYrattlerscamp1

Arizona Rattlers public practice is from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. every day next to the dog park at Copper Sky Regional Park, 55345 W. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.

SUNDAY

A Ray of Hope meeting of Narcotics Anonymous is at 7 p.m. at Maricopa Chamber of Commerce Office, 44480 W. Honeycutt Road, Suite 106.

MONDAY

Maricopa Planning & Zoning Commission Meeting is at 6 p.m. at City Hall, 39700 W. Civic Center Plaza. Agenda items involve the draft General Plan.

A Ray of Hope meeting of Narcotics Anonymous is at 7 p.m. at Maricopa Community Church, 44977 W. Hathaway Ave. (enter through door on right side of building).

TUESDAY

Leading Edge Academy Groundbreaking is at 8:30 a.m. for the expansion facility in Maricopa, 18700 N. Porter Road. RSVP.

Coffee with Friends of the Maricopa Library starts at 1:30 p.m. at Maricopa Public Library, 41600 W. Smith-Enke Road. Meet every Tuesday for refreshments and conversation and get acquainted with the library. All ages welcome.

Maricopa Artists’ Gallery Show Opening is from 5 to 7 p.m. at Maricopa City Hall, 39700 W. Civic Center Plaza. Local artists will display Maricopa-themed art through June.

City Council Work Session is at 6 p.m. at Maricopa City Hall, 39700 W. Civic Center Plaza. The mayor and council will hear a presentation on mosquito abatement at city parks.

City Council Regular Session is at 7 p.m. at Maricopa City Hall, 39700 W. Civic Center Plaza. Agenda items include an IGA for the overpass design, a financial audit, mold remediation and City Manager Gregory Rose’s performance evaluation.

WEDNESDAY

Non-profit Funding Evaluation Committee meets at Maricopa City Hall, 39700 W. Civic Center Plaza. Agenda items include a recommendation of funding for the Scholarship Match Program.

Maricopa Unified School District Governing Board Meeting is at 6:30 p.m. at the District Office, 44150 W. Maricopa-Casa Grande Hwy. The agenda includes the budget, updated policies and changes in personnel.

THURSDAY

Friends on the Porch meet at 9 a.m. at Maricopa Public Library, 41600 W. Smith-Enke Road. Join the Friends of the Library for coffee, cookies and entertainment. Meet under the tent.

A Ray of Hope meeting of Narcotics Anonymous is at 7 p.m. at Ak-Chin Social Services, 48227 W. Farrell Road.

SATURDAY

Salsa Festival is from 2 to 8 p.m. at Copper Sky Regional Park, 55345 W. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. Food, entertainment, Arizona Rattlers, free shuttle, Maricopa Science City and much more.

Long-time Maricopa resident and former Rotary president Don Pearce is protesting the idea of filling in the pool at Rotary Park. Photos by Devin Carson

Don Pearce moved to Maricopa in 1959 and soon after began helping with maintenance at the local Rotary Club’s new swimming pool.

“It was about the kids. I was here close, and if something happened I could go down,” said Pearce, who owned the NAPA Auto Parts store at the corner of Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway and State Route 347.

He still considers the Rotary pool his baby and wants it to reopen. It closed in 2014 when Copper Sky Regional Park opened its aquatic center.

When the city of Maricopa started talking about acquiring Rotary Park, including the pool, Pearce became worried the plan would be to fill in the pool that was built in 1958. That could be the case whether the property remains a park or is significantly altered by rerouted roadways for the overpass.

Back in 1958, John Smith and Fred Enke donated the land to the Rotary for the park and pool. If the property ceases to be used as a park, it reverts back to the Smith family.

“I would like to see the whole thing re-done,” Mary Lou Smith said. “It would serve a lot of people, not just the Heritage District. That’s a very nice area there; it would be an asset.”

She said people who could not go to Copper Sky, including those in subdivisions next to the Heritage District, would have a pool.

“I bet we taught over 2,000 kids to swim,” Pearce said of his years with Rotary. “I’ve got five daughters. All of them learned to swim in that pool. Two were lifeguards.”

He can wax nostalgic about the swimming pool, but his opposition to dismantling it is not about keeping a piece of history alive.

“The Maricopa Domestic Water [Improvement District] furnished the water for the pool free of charge,” Pearce said. “So the people that are paying the bill are the people in the Heritage District. They don’t feel like they should furnish the water for the park only and not have the swimming pool. They feel like they’re being short-changed.”

Since the pool’s closure, the city has adopted a new zoning code. A cost study for re-opening the pool under the new codes is pending. Early ballpark figures from City Hall are $500,000-$1 million. Pearce called that “ridiculous.”

He said he could gather a group of people who would willingly do the work and maintain the pool for free. It is an idea harkening back to the heyday of the Rotary Club, which started Stagecoach Days as a way to earn money before incorporation.

“The last year we ran it, we painted it, cleaned it up and got it ready,” Pearce said. “The city gave us $20,000. We ran the pool all summer, had at least 50 kids every day, and we gave them back some of that grant.”

He parted ways with the Rotary Club over the closing of the pool, among other things, but still wants to have a citizen’s voice as discussions begin between city officials and the Rotary Club. He said it should be about the children.

“These kids don’t have a way to get to Copper Sky,” he said. “I can’t even go on my scooter.”

Paint collapsed off the wall of the facility at Rotary Park. Photo by Devin Carson
Paint collapsed off the wall of the facility at Rotary Park. Photo by Devin Carson

Aron Rauch, president of Maricopa Rotary Club, stands at Rotary Park, which is next to Maricopa Unified School District. The city is debating whether to acquire the park. Photo by Adam Wolfe

Before Maricopa was a city, it had a park. Back when the Heritage District was not called the Heritage District but was just Maricopa, the local Rotary Club saw the unincorporated community’s need for safe recreation.

The club was only 2 years old in 1956 when it decided the community needed a pool. According to Patricia Brock’s “Reflections of a Desert Town,” Rotarians John Smith and Fred Enke donated 3.5 acres, and the club raised money and donated labor to construct the swimming pool in 1958.

The park included a lawn shaded by trees, a ramada with picnic tables and grills, a basketball court, volleyball pit and bathrooms.

For decades, the pool was the place to go in the summer.

But times changed in Maricopa. The community grew, eventually incorporating and building a city park called Pacana. When Copper Sky Regional Park and its aquatic center opened in 2014, Maricopa Rotary Club closed its swimming pool.

Now, the city maintains the lawn area while the Rotary Club manages the now-drained pool, locked restrooms, basketball court and ramada.

The Maricopa City Council is contemplating taking over Rotary Park to make sure the Heritage District continues to have a usable park.

The Council seems to favor taking ownership of park, but the debate over how much of the park to maintain remains a divisive issue.

“We would like to acquire at least the park and get the restrooms open,” Maricopa Community Services Directory Kristie Riester said. “Right now the bathrooms are secured and closed off and unavailable for people that are accessing the park to use.”

Rotary President Aron Rausch said he has doubts the property can legally be split between two owners, another issue to be studied by City Hall.

If the Council moves forward with the purchase of the park, the city would conduct a survey of the park. The cost of the survey is approximately $6,320 and another $7,300 is expected to go toward renovations of the restrooms.

Though the city has not done a study of the pool costs, City Manager Gregory Rose estimated repair costs and bringing up to code would exceed $500,000. Reister said her rough guess for renovating the existing structure was $1 million.

Don Pearce, who had helped maintain the pool since 1959, took issue with those figures. “It’s ridiculous what they’re talking about,” he said. “That pool was built better than any other pool anywhere. It’s structurally good. I can’t imagine what they’re gonna do to it that costs that much money. We don’t need gold fixtures in there.” See related story

“When I first moved here, we used that pool a lot,” City Councilmember Vincent Manfredi said. “Does Rotary have any intention to spend the million dollars to fix it? If they don’t, there is no point in not acquiring the whole (park) and just taking the pool out or repurposing it. Otherwise it’s just going to fall apart, become an eyesore or create a hazard.”

Ideas such as a community garden or playground equipment have been mentioned as an alternative if the pool is filled in.

“I think the issue here is if there is interest in having the city staff move forward and start these negotiations,” Mayor Christian Price said. “The long-term plan needs to be brought back before us so we can make the ultimate decision. If (the park is) going to come to us, then it needs to be of a new use. We have to have the right to change that in the future.”

Another issue surrounding the park is whether it will stay a park when the State Route 347 overpass is built.

One of the elements of the overpass is the redirection of traffic from Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway to Honeycutt Road. The Arizona Department of Transportation is working on an alternative that would expand an existing access road by Maricopa Unified School District and direct it through to the MCG Highway.

If ADOT sticks to that plan, the road would be directly adjacent to and even within the borders of Rotary Park. That could affect park operations.

If the park is no longer used as a park, the ownership rights are transferred back to the original title holder, Maricopa Community Services Company, because it was deeded to the Rotary Club as a park.

“I’m concerned about the clause that if it no longer serves as a park it reverts back to the granter,” Councilmember Peggy Chapados said. “We can’t guarantee what the future of that land will be. With the future of Maricopa-Casa Grande and the 347 and the changes in that area, we can’t guarantee what it will be.”

This story appeared in the March issue of InMaricopa News.

Rotary Park was created to build a community pool, which was completed in 1958. The pool closed when Copper Sky Regional Park opened. Photo by Devin Carson
Rotary Park was created to build a community pool, which was completed in 1958. The pool closed when Copper Sky Regional Park opened. Photo by Devin Carson

The Salsa Festival on March 19 will include food, entertainment and Maricopa Science City.

Salsa meets science again this month in Maricopa.

The 12th annual Maricopa Salsa Festival is March 19, 2-8 p.m., at Copper Sky Regional Park. As always, expect a diverse array of salsas to taste and entertainment all day. Maricopa Science City will have a display of how science impacts modern lives, and watch out for the Rattlers.

Judging of the salsas will be a little different this year, Special Events Manager Niesha Whitman said. The city will have a new mobile app allowing salsa fans to register their votes electronically. Organizers also want to re-work the weight of the judging. Instead of the “celebrity judges” determining the top prize, that Best Overall $1,000 reward probably will be determined by the “People’s Choice” vote.

Category winners will get $500, and the judges’ prize winner will get $250.

The Little Pepper Zone will have kids’ activities, and adults can imbibe in the beer garden. There will also be a food and vendor village.

Consumption of beer will no longer be confined to the Beer Garden.

The entertainment begins at 2 p.m. with a full variety of performances.  Copper Sky instructors will lead Zumba and Salsa dance lessons. Fiesta Mexican performs twice, bookending Danzarte Danza Folklorica.

Maricopa’s Laura Walsh will headline the entertainment. She takes the stage at 7 p.m.

Performing before Walsh will be Maricopa teen Jiselle Diaz, whom Whitman described as having the “voice of an angel.”

Maricopa Science City will be set up at the north entrance with its exhibits by local professionals showing the fun side of science. See nitrogen-frozen ice cream, the science of baseball, the science of color, new police technology and much more.

This year, Science City includes a science fair. Students attending elementary, middle school or high school are invited to register their science projects and compete for scholarship money and a trophy. Check out robots and other student engineering feats.

Arizona’s own Arena Football team, the Rattlers, will conduct a public scrimmage at 12:30 p.m. and lasting into the early part of the festival. This year, the team is having its training camp at Copper Sky.

Admission to the Salsa Festival is free. There is a $5 charge for the Little Pepper Zone. Salsa voting packets are $1 each. Parking at Copper Sky is $5 and free for vehicles with ADA hangtags or plates.

The city is again providing shuttles on a continuous loop to free parking at Santa Rosa Elementary School, Santa Cruz Elementary School, Maricopa Wells Middle School, Maricopa Elementary School, Saddleback Elementary School, Butterfield Elementary School and ACE Hardware (ADA access).

This story appeared in the March issue of InMaricopa News.

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Paul Jepson is sent off with flair by Councilmember Peg Chapados. Submitted photo

In an otherwise brief meeting, the Maricopa City Council took time to honor Intergovernmental Affairs Director Paul Jepson as he prepares to leave Maricopa to become the city manager of Globe.

Jepson has been a part of the Maricopa city staff for a decade. He was one of the first employees hired by the city, and he has played an integral role in gathering funding for the overpass on State Route 347.

“I applied for a management assistant job through the college, and I was hired as employee No. 13,” Jepson says. “Initially, it was ‘Hey, we’re brand new and working out of trailers. You have a master’s degree and are a teacher so you know about education.’ I also happen to be [knowledgeable] in educational technology, so I was able to help with the webpage as well. That’s probably why I was hired. I was able to fill three hats, and I was willing to do it.”

See our feature on Paul Jepson.

Former mayors Edward Farrell and Anthony Smith came to pay homage to Jepson, and council member Peggy Chapados was overcome with emotion as she presented Jepson with gifts to help him in his new position.

“I had a really good time today reminiscing and thinking about stories about Paul,” Farrell said. “He’s raised his children while working in the city of Maricopa. He’s a very hard worker and when I think of Paul there’s one word that comes to mind; relationships. This man is all about relationships. He’ll serve the city of Globe well as he has the city of Maricopa.”

During their brief agenda, the council unanimously approved a three-year contract with Wells Fargo Bank for banking and depository services and heard a presentation from Jepson on updates from the 2016 Arizona Legislative session. The council also approved a transfer of $12, 672 from the city’s contingency fund to the Maricopa Fire Department for professional and occupational services, but the vote was split 5-1.

“My main concern was taking action with contingency funds for things that have already been expended without that type of consideration,” council member Nancy Smith said. “Granted, it’s just $12,000, but it was a matter of principle for me.”

The council will reconvene on March 15 at 7 p.m.

Submitted photo

By Yvonne Gonzalez

Maricopa officials are preparing for mosquito season and looking at spending thousands to equip the city with its own fogging equipment.

Last year’s mosquito issues at Copper Sky Regional Park and Pacana Park made for an unpleasant experience for visitors, Community Services Director Kristie Riester said.

“We were having a really big issue with it,” she said. “It was just making it hard to enjoy the park.”

She said mosquito abatement is done for comfort as well as concern for illnesses transmitted by the insects.

The city council is expected to discuss mosquito mitigation during a March 15 work session. Riester said the council will be asked to weigh hiring a contractor or buying the fogging equipment to spray areas impacted by mosquitoes.

“We will be presenting two different equipment options to council for foggers,” she wrote in an email. “One is $8,000 and the other is $15,000. The main difference between the two models is technology and noise level.”

Riester said two staff members are already certified to use the fogging equipment, and purchasing it means the city won’t have to pay a contractor each time the parks need to be sprayed.

“We were having a really big issue with [mosquitoes]. It was just making it hard to enjoy the park.” – Kristie Riester, Community Services Director

“It was hard,” she said of last year’s mosquito abatement. “The company that we found that was able to come out and do it for us, they came when they had other larger contracts in the area. It was such a small contract that it was sometimes hard to coordinate that.”

She said the city tried to spray the parks once a week, but if weather or other factors prevented the company from coming out, it was a challenge to reschedule.

The city sprayed the parks starting in mid-June, and Riester said the last application was in September. Fogging cost $312 for both parks, putting costs for last year at roughly $2,000.

She said the fogging spray isn’t very expensive, and the city would be able to spray more frequently with its own equipment.

“If we can purchase the equipment and do it in-house, it would save a tremendous amount of money and give us more freedom to spray when we need to,” she said.

According to the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS), the most common mosquito-borne disease in Arizona is West Nile virus. About one in five people bitten by an infected mosquito will experience the virus’s flu-like symptoms.

The state agency conducts mosquito surveillance, testing samples for viruses so at-risk communities can be identified and steps taken to prevent transmission.

Reister said spreading disease is always a concern for the city.

“That’s why we did some abatement last year,” she said.

Staff members attended a University of Arizona workshop on mosquitoes in Arizona “to get a better understanding of the insects for the upcoming season,” Riester said. “I think they learned a lot from that.”

The World Health Organization recently declared the Zika virus an international health emergency. The virus started circulating in the Americas in Brazil, with about 20 percent of infected people showing symptoms like rash and fever.

There have been no cases of the virus being transmitted in the United States, but, according to the Centers for Disease Control, the public has become alarmed that Zika could be linked to birth defects in newborns.

Arizona is home to the mosquito that can carry Zika as well as the dengue virus, according to ADHS. Dengue has been expanding from the tropics and subtropics, with symptoms including high fever that last four to seven days.

While there have been no locally acquired cases of either virus, state health officials have included that type of mosquito, the Aedes aegypti, in the surveillance effort.

Those traveling to countries where Zika is being transmitted are advised to take steps to prevent mosquito bites, like wearing long sleeves.

The health department says detecting and controlling mosquito breeding sites depends on the combined efforts of the state, counties, tribal agencies, local municipalities and residents. Mosquito-borne virus transmission is most prevalent from May to October.

This story appeared in the March issue of InMaricopa News.

Photo by Adam Wolfe

Hundreds of participants came out to Copper Sky Regional Park Saturday afternoon to compete in the second annual Copa Color Fun Run.

For this year’s Color Run, the city added a beer garden and food trucks to provide participants with an afternoon of fun, food and entertainment.

“It’s going exceptionally well,” Maricopa Special Events and Marketing Manager Niesha Whitman said. “We had a very good turnout. We have business vendors out here, we have food trucks out here serving people, we have a photographer on site and we have a DJ entertaining the crowd. So we have a lot to do for everyone.”

Throughout the race, runners are doused with vibrant colors. Dozens of spectators lined the course to cheer on the runners, and hundreds of families took advantage of the bounce houses and various festivities for children and adults.

“It’s another avenue for people to do on a Saturday afternoon,” Whitman said. “It’s just something to get the community out, and we’re really encouraging everyone to go out to (Harrah’s) Ak-Chin and check out the Salt N Pepa concert this evening.”

Rotary Park, next to the Maricopa Unified School District offices and the Maricopa Veterans Center, is showing signs of dilapidation. City Council will talk about the park in tonight's work session. Photo by Adam Wolfe

Rotary Park is currently under the control of the Maricopa Rotary Club, but that could change.

The Maricopa City Council will hear a presentation from Community Services Director Kristie Riester regarding the city’s acquisition of Rotary Park during the council’s work session tonight.

Riester and City Manager Gregory Rose recently attended club meetings and spoke with club president Aron Rausch regarding a transition for the park to fall under city control.

“Tonight we will have a discussion with the mayor [Christian Price] and council to see if a purchase of the park is good for the city,” Rose said. “If the council instructs us to move forward, our intention would be to acquire the park and develop a Capital Improvement Project.”

If the council moves forward with the purchase of the park, and the Rotary Club follows suit, the city would conduct a survey of the park. The cost of the survey is approximately $6,320.

The park would also need substantial upgrades to the bathroom, ramada and pool. The ramada and pool are safety hazards at this time. Decisions on whether to refurbish or remove each feature would come at a later date.

“It would be good to have a park in the Heritage District that better serves the community than Lexington Park currently does,” Rose said.

The presentation will take place during the council’s work session tonight at 6 p.m. at City Hall.

 

Photo by Adam Wolfe

Approximately 350 residents came out to Maricopa’s fourth installment of the Second Saturday Market at Copper Sky Regional Park.

The monthly farmers market has been a hit since being introduced in November, and vendors and residents are taking full advantage of the event.

“I’d say we had 300 to 350 people out for today’s event,” Maricopa Special Events and Marketing Manager Niesha Whitman said. “We had the majority of the people come first thing in the morning and get their produce.”

The next market will take place on March 12 from 8 to 11 a.m. However, the last market until the fall will take place in May.

“We’ll still have plenty of each variety of produce, so come on out if you’d like to get your produce. It’s $10 for 60 pounds,” Whitman said.