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City of Maricopa

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.

A local youth was taken to Chandler Regional Medical Center with minor injuries after being slashed with a pocket knife during a fight at Maricopa’s Copper Sky Skate Park Thursday afternoon.

According to Maricopa Police Department spokesman Colt Homan, an altercation began between two 16-year-olds in the skate park, and one pulled out a pocket knife and slashed the other.

Both teens were transported to Chandler Regional Medical Center with minor injuries. The slashing victim received a cut, and the suspect had minor scrapes due to the scuffle.

The suspect was taken to a juvenile facility and booked on an aggravated assault charge.

Rumors of the incident’s origin began circulating Maricopa, but Homan clarified the incident was simply a fight between teenagers.

“Rumors of there being a drug deal were false,” Homan said. “This was just a quarrel.”

Maricopa 101: Home-based Businesses

The next session of Maricopa 101 will be Feb. 17 from 5 to 6 p.m. in the Zephyr Conference Room at City Hall, 39700 West Civic Center Plaza. Maricopa 101 is a monthly series of free training events designed to help business owners better understand City processes.

The topic will be Home-based Businesses. Dan Beach, executive director of the Maricopa Center for Entrepreneurship will give a presentation on the dos and don’ts of running a home-based business.


Maricopa Realtor Tour

Commercial and residential real estate brokers are invited to attend the Feb. 25 Maricopa Realtor Tour from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. It starts at the Province Active Adult Community, 20930 N. Province Parkway.

The event will feature an economic forecast by Jim Rounds of Rounds Consulting and will highlight the assets in the community and future economic development.


New business license applications

Commercial: Fast Fruit and Tommy’s Mobile Diagnostics and AC.

Home-based: Educational Development Corporation, Eye Candy Creations, Thermo King Heating & Cooling, Transformations Beauty Lounge and May Yeung.

Out of town: American Residential Leasing Company, ARP 2014-1 Borrower, Casa Verde Services, Chalk the Line Construction, Cross Lifeline Training, Doehrman Company and XO Sourcing.

Pinal County Federal Credit Union adds Bartle to board

The Pinal County Federal Credit Union appointed Scott Bartle to its seven-member board of directors Jan. 28. Bartle is a former Maricopa Unified School District Governing Board member and publisher of InMaricopa.

The credit union has served Pinal County residents since 1954. Its six branches include one near the northwest corner of John Wayne Parkway and Smith-Enke Road at 44600 W. Smith-Enke Road, Suite 105

Bartle will serve the remainder of the term of vacated by fellow Maricopa resident Jim Rives.

Transportation issues also addressed by General Plan

Maricopa resident looks over the transportation portion of the draft General Plan while planner Ryan Wozniak (from left), transportation manager David Maestas and Tortosa residents Liz and Anita Cecini look on. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

A crash Jan. 29 at the Casa Blanca intersection with State Route 347 during morning rush hour backed up traffic into Maricopa along John Wayne Parkway and its arterial streets.

The situation is not as uncommon as residents would like. Any improvement to the experience of driving on SR 347 is in demand.

One possible solution would have voters raising their own taxes for a Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) that could add lanes to the highway.

“Most likely, the question will be put before voters on the November ballot,” County Supervisor Anthony Smith said. “If it’s approved by the voters, then new transportation projects across the whole county will be funded by that half-cent sales tax, which accumulates a total revenue of about $640 million.”

Because governments cannot base plans on the unknown opinion of the public, the possible RTA and its implications for SR 347 are not part of the Maricopa General Plan. Other transportation proposals are included in that vision, however.

Anita Cecini of Tortosa said future plans of an Interstate 11 from Nevada to Nogales were fine for Maricopans wanting to go to Las Vegas but do nothing to relieve the stress of traveling to Chandler.

“This does not help,” she said, looking at transportation display boards at one of the city’s four open house events on the General Plan in January.

The sessions were meant to gather public feedback as the city prepared to present the draft plan to its various advisory committees. It shows the scope of 2040 Vision and what city zoning and transportation could look like at build-out in 25 years. It also showed the five-year plan that includes an overpass on John Wayne Parkway at the railroad tracks.

Resident Dana Jennings said the presentations looked like the city was expecting population growth without taking care of the SR 347 issue.

But Pinal County’s proposed RTA includes two projects in the Maricopa area. One of those projects would widen SR 347 to six lanes.

“If that information was promoted here, it would alleviate a lot of people’s questions about why are we blowing everything up,” Jennings said of the General Plan’s growth calculations.

“There’s going to be a lot of publicity on the RTA because we know there is going to be a vote anytime we try to increase taxes,” Maricopa Transportation Manager David Maestas said.

Smith said more information on the RTA would be presented in the spring and summer. He said he expects supervisors to vote on whether to place it on the November ballot during their sessions in June or July.

If approved, SR 347 is the first major project on the RTA list, with design starting in 2017 and construction completed by 2020, he said. 2020 is also the year targeted for the construction of the overpass.

The RTA would provide $28.8 million to make SR 347 six lanes from Maricopa to I-10. That does not necessarily involve widening the existing road bed. SR 347 runs through land belonging to the Gila River Indian Community, and only a certain width is allocated. But the existing four lanes with median do have enough room for six lanes if designers are creative, Smith said.

Anita Cecini’s sister Liz Cecini, a former planner, said information about a possible RTA should be top-most in the city’s discussions with the public about transportation planning. She grilled city staff and committee members on the General Plan process.

“What does success look like?” she asked repeatedly. “It’s good that that’s 2040, and this is the five-year plan, but I want to know what’s in between.”

Maricopa Zoning Administrator Kazi Haque said staff will report public feedback on the General Plan to the city council. How it is processed, he said, will depend on the council’s priorities.

Frequently appearing on priority lists is the creation of a leg of I-11 through Pinal County. That possibility shows up on General Plan maps. It is also the second Maricopa-area project on the potential RTA list.

The RTA would allocate $4.8 million by 2024 to acquire right of way for either a leg of I-11 or another high-capacity parkway south of Maricopa.

Discussions of an RTA sales tax came about because state and federal money was slow in coming to help Pinal County’s transportation problems.

In the past 15 years, Smith said, Pinal County doubled in population and Maricopa grew 4,000 percent, but residents are still using the pre-boom roads.

“We know from studies that in 2017, SR 347 will begin experiencing gridlock,” he said. (That is expected to be full gridlock sometime between 2020 and 2024.) “So we’ve got to get ahead of the curve. Otherwise we’re going to be suffering some serious quality-of-life issues here in the city of Maricopa.”

This story appeared in the February issue of InMaricopa News.

The design of the overpass project involves more than a bridge over the railroad tracks.

An overpass in Maricopa will be more than an overpass – at least in terms of strategy.

The future grade-separation project at the State Route 347/Union Pacific Railroad crossing is actually three projects in one. The city of Maricopa is responsible for one of the primary elements, and the Arizona Department of Transportation is responsible for the other two sections, though they coordinate efforts.

1. Relocation of Amtrak Station

This effort is under design by the city. The Design Concept Report estimated the project will cost $4.64 million. The station is to be moved up the tracks less than a mile, northwest to Estrella Gin property.

The relocation will involve constructing a station building and associated structures, adding rail siding and creating drainage. City officials have been studying historical photographs and examples from other cities regarding the possible aesthetics of the building.

Concurrently, the relocation will also bring about moving a large object to the new site – the historic Zephyr train car, which belongs to Pinal County and is under the auspices of the Maricopa Historical Society.

2. Realignment of local streets

The overpass project will require realignment of streets on both sides of SR 347 and on both sides of the tracks.

“ADOT will work closely with the city and be responsible for reaching out to residents and property owners in the area,” ADOT Senior Community Relations Officer Paki Rico said.

Involved roadways on this part of the project are Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway and Honeycutt Road on east of SR 347 near Maricopa Unified School District offices, and Honeycutt Avenue and Edwards Avenue on the west side near Maricopa High School. The improvements will extend the road next to the MUSD transportation department on Honeycutt Road all the way through to MCG Highway.

“We have known about this plan for years, and when our two facilities in the area were built we planned for this realignment,” MUSD Superintendent Steve Chestnut said. “We know this realignment will greatly improve the flow of traffic in Maricopa and we do not foresee any problems.”

ADOT is responsible for this element of the project. Paki said the estimated cost is $11.2 million if the street realignments are part of the overpass project and not an independent project.

3. Realignment of SR 347 and construction of roadway over UPRR tracks

The overpass is, of course, the meat of the project. The estimated cost of realigning SR 347 between Hathaway Avenue on the north and Alterra Parkway on the south plus building the overpass is $39.1 million, which is ADOT’s responsibility. Paki said that estimate is contingent upon the overpass being in the same project as the city street realignments.

Once ADOT reaches 30 percent completion on its design for this primary element of the project (possibly this year), the city of Maricopa can determine which properties will be in the path of the project and need to be acquired for demolition.

This story appeared in the February issue of InMaricopa News.

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The City of Maricopa received the Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada (GFOA) Distinguished Budget Presentation Award for fiscal year 2015-16.

The award reflects the commitment of City Council and staff to meeting the highest principles of governmental budgeting. In order to receive the budget award, the City had to satisfy nationally recognized guidelines for effective budget presentation. These guidelines are designed to assess how well an entity’s budget serves as:
•    a policy document
•    a financial plan
•    an operations guide
•    a communication device

Budget documents must be rated “proficient” in all four categories, and fourteen mandatory criteria within those categories, to receive the award.

“The City of Maricopa Finance team has done a tremendous job putting together the budget and has received this prestigious award for eight years in a row,” said City Manager Gregory Rose. “We are in the process of putting together a balanced budget for the 2016-17 fiscal year.”

The Government Finance Officers Association is a major professional association servicing the needs of more than 18,000 appointed and elected local, state and provincial-level government officials and other finance practitioners. The GFOA’s Distinguished Budget Presentation Awards Program is the only national awards program in governmental budgeting.

Council seats that are up for election in 2016 currently belong to Mayor Christian Price, Vice Mayor Marvin Brown, Bridger Kimball and Nancy Smith. (City of Maricopa)

The Maricopa City Council approved deadlines for voter and candidate registration for the 2016 general election.

The primary election will take place on Aug. 30 and the general election will take place on Nov. 8. Voters will have to be registered within 29 days of each election. Any voter not registered by Aug. 1 will not be able to vote in the primary election, and any voter not registered by Oct. 10 will not be able to vote in the general election.

Elected officials whose terms end this year are Mayor Christian Price, Vice Mayor Marvin Brown and council members Bridger Kimball and Nancy Smith.

Resolution 16-01, unanimously approved Tuesday, reads, “Candidates seeking municipal office may obtain nomination papers, and other materials which must be filed by candidates with the City Clerk, at Maricopa City Hall 39700 W. Civic Center Plaza, Maricopa, Arizona beginning Jan. 20, 2016. Candidates must file nomination papers and other nomination forms no earlier than Monday, May 2, 2016, and no later than Wednesday, June 1, 2016 – 5 p.m.”

If candidates fail to file their nomination papers between May 2 and June 1, they will be unable to run in the 2016 general election.

The council also approved Ordinance 16-01 which changes the mayor’s term in office from two years to four years. The change will be adopted after the 2016 election.

“As you remember, Proposition 405 passed in 2014, which amended [the mayor’s term in office],” Maricopa City Clerk Vanessa Bueras said. “We wanted to hold off on amending it until now so that we wouldn’t confuse the citizens who look at our code and see we have a four-year term for mayor when in reality we had a sitting mayor with a two-year term.”

The council also discussed and approved a third amendment to the professional services agreement with the EPS Group adding $103,209.80 for the Edison Road Extension. The money was not budgeted for 2016.

“There is not a loss of any other project,” Public Works Director Bill Fay said. “It does cost $100,000 to the project, but the course of redesigning it will redesign the project so that instead of costing $5 million it will only cost $2.5 million.”

Other council approvals included a two-year contract extension with PFM Asset Management, L.L.C. for investment management services, the acceptance of a $60,395 grant for court victim advocate position, software program for advocacy, equipment and membership to the Arizona Coalition to End Sexual and Domestic Violence, and an easement for electric lines with Electrical District No. 3 for the Copper Sky Police Substation.

The council will reconvene on Feb. 2 at 7 p.m.

Maricopa city employees are already moving into the new Public Works building at the end of Edison Road, though it is not quite finished. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

The new Maricopa Public Works and Fire Department building on Edison Road has nearly been completed and will see employees slowly move in before its opening on Feb. 9.

The new building brings Maricopa residents another step closer to the eventual Estrella Gin Business Park that is planned for the area southwest of Acacia Crossing on Edison Road. Employees from Maricopa’s Public Works Department’s “street crew” will relocate to the building as well as members of the MFD maintenance crew.

“We’ve got substantial use of the building already,” Public Works Director Bill Fay said. “We have employees there now and more coming over by February.”

The building is expected to mostly serve as a maintenance facility. Fire maintenance will repair vehicles at the new location, and members of the street crew will use the building as a dispatching and maintenance area.

“Think of the building as being split into thirds,” Fay said. “One-third will be for Maricopa Fire’s maintenance team to use like a mechanic shop. The middle-third will house some administration for the Public Works Department, but also serve as a maintenance area. The last-third will house the street crew. However, they will spend very little time there as they are often out in the city.”

The building will officially open when the city holds a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Feb. 9 at 5 p.m.

MFD's Rodney Davenport “lifting” a fire truck in the new facility. City of Maricopa photo
MFD’s Rodney Davenport “lifting” a fire truck in the new facility. City of Maricopa photo

Maricopa's Martin Luther King Day event was filled with local entertainment. Photo by Devin Carson

By Devin Carson

In celebration of Martin Luther King Day, the city hosted a remembrance brunch at Sequoia Pathway Academy.

People from all over the city came to honor his legacy with dancing, spoken words and reiteration of his iconic “I Have a Dream” speech. There was also live music from a local jazz band and food.

“I think we performed really well, as a group,” event attendee Eddie Perry said. “We rehearsed three times and we came early to rehearse again just to make sure everything went smoothly as planned.”

Maricopa Mayor Christian Price, Miss Maricopa Auna Littlejohn and members of the Maricopa City Council were in attendance. Vice Mayor Marvin Brown delivered a speech to provide a glimpse into Martin Luther King Jr.’s life and upbringing.

“For our first attempt I think it went pretty well,” Brown said. “I was very pleased with the results. Not only do I want this to be an annual event, but I want the city to expand on this topic.”

Early in his life, Brown had the opportunity to meet Martin Luther King Jr. The experience left an impression on his life that he carries to this day.

“We weren’t like best friends,” Brown said. “However, during our conversation you had the chance to feel his humility and his sense of humor.”

Hundreds of Maricopa residents filled the gymnasium at Sequoia Pathway to participate in the celebration of Dr. King’s life.

“Even though I believe we all did fantastic if I had to pick only one it would be Jazmine Hughes,” Kiara Shumate said. “Even with her shyness and her lack of preparation she still managed to pull through and give a fantastic show.

The Edison Pointe development by Vintage Partners includes four major retail spaces, four mini major spaces and four pads.

If all goes as planned, Edison Pointe will start construction in summer 2016 and be open for business in spring 2017.

The lot next to Fry’s Marketplace was purchased four years ago by Vintage Partners. The project is doing business as VP Edison 15, LLC.

Michael Treadwell, senior vice president of development leasing at VP, said the plan will allow for 14-15 businesses in 130,000 square feet of retail space.

VP is “finalizing tenants,” said Treadwell, who is not identifying those prospects. He said VP is building for the specific requirements of the tenants, however.

“We like Maricopa and we think there is a need for more retail,” Treadwell said. “And we really like the location of Edison Pointe.”

That location is on the east side of John Wayne Parkway, south of Fry’s and north of Edison Road.

Economic Development Director Denyse Airheart said there will be two phases to the project. There are four major retail buildings and four “mini major” spaces designed for the parcel plus two pad sites. The second phase contains two more pad sites.

“It looks like 80 percent is in Phase One, and the rest is in the last two pads,” Airheart said.

Edison Pointe was one of the developments Mayor Christian Price referenced, unnamed, as a point of progress in his State of the City address in October. “We hope to break ground on several privately owned, developer-controlled retail locations within the city,” he said. “This will bring a myriad of new options, from eateries to different types of stores, things of that nature.”

One of the Edison Pointe pads is designed for a sit-down restaurant. Another is for an auto-repair business.

“We don’t have information on who the tenants will be,” Airheart said. “We know there will be a major retailer.”

She said developers come to the city to learn what businesses would be a good fit and then market their property to those industries.

Because of the pace at which Vintage Partners completed Maricopa Station once it broke ground (seven months), Airheart said she anticipates the work at Edison Pointe to go “pretty quickly.”

A development review permit has been before the Maricopa Planning & Zoning Commission, which recommended it for approval.

The project is one of the first major developments to operate within the city’s new zoning code, which became effective Dec. 5, 2014.

Airheart said that will give the project a different look and layout from Maricopa’s older commercial developments because of modern elements in the facade. At the same time, it is meant to fit visually with Fry’s Marketplace. Its planned color scheme for the major buildings is whites, creams and tans.

There are also plans for raised pedestrian crosswalks in the parking area.

Treadwell said the plans are coming together exactly as VP envisioned when it bought the property.

Access from John Wayne Parkway has been a point of concern as the project moves through development. Southbound drivers on JWP wishing to access Edison Pointe must either turn left at the Fry’s light and drive through the Fry’s parking lot or turn left at Edison Road.

City planner Rudy Lopez said there would be up to three access points off Edison.

Edison Road is two lanes. Resident Lee Murray said traffic on Edison trying to get onto SR 347 already backs up at rush hour.

Airheart said there have been no recent discussions about adding lanes to Edison. Lopez said traffic review is part of the development conditions.

The zoning code’s Transportation Corridor overlay district applies to the first 150 feet of parcels fronting State Route 347 and other major throughways. The TC overlay is meant to “prevent developments which would conflict with the vision in the General Plan for these corridors or interrupt the transit, bicycle and pedestrian experience,” according to Article 301 of the zoning code.

Treadwell said VP has a long-standing, strong relationship with the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT), which has authority over John Wayne Parkway. Most recently in Maricopa, VP worked with ADOT to add northbound exits for its Maricopa Station project.

“We work very well with ADOT, and we’ll certainly be discussing this with the city,” Treadwell said.

He said VP intends to announce each tenant as paperwork is finalized.

This story appeared in the January issue of InMaricopa News.

Utility lines mark the space for a future development called Edison Pointe at the corner of SR 347 and Edison Road next to Fry’s Marketplace. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson
Utility lines mark the space for a future development called Edison Pointe at the corner of SR 347 and Edison Road next to Fry’s Marketplace. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

Preliminary numbers from the mid-decade census do not reflect the 50,000 hoped for by city leaders, though Mayor Christian Price and City Manager Gregory Rose say the results are within the expected range.

Preliminary results from the special census conducted by the city of Maricopa showed lower numbers than some city officials were hoping to see.

Maricopa paid between $700,000 and $800,000 to conduct a special mid-decade census through the U.S. Census Bureau in hopes of seeing a count of 50,000. The preliminary estimates would give the city an extra $665,000 per year over the next five years, totaling $3.3 million.

Preliminary census results showed a 4 percent increase in population from 43,482 to 45,277 residents.

“I would’ve liked to see that number be higher,” Councilman Henry Wade said. “I was hoping we’d be at 50,000 for the city. We heard a couple times from people who weren’t approached or had to call in, so hopefully that number will go up (when the official results come out).”

Had the city reached 50,000 residents, Maricopa would have made nearly $11.6 million over five years.

“When we discussed the census we knew it was going to be a range,” City Manager Gregory Rose said. “The results fell into that range, so overall we are happy with the numbers. It will provide money we wouldn’t otherwise have, so it’s a win for the city.”

Any money rewarded from the special census is expected to go toward public safety, emergency response services, parks and recreation facilities, and public works projects such as roads, sidewalks and intersection maintenance.

“We were hoping to show officially over 50,000, but (the numbers) are in line with our estimates,” Maricopa Mayor Christian Price said. “It makes our job easier to bring companies in with a higher population, but we still have many transient residents. We have residents who split time in Canada and other states, and we don’t get state collections for that. But it could be 3,500 to 5,000 more people.”

Price said he expects the number of counted residents to increase when the certified numbers come out in mid March. Any increase in population from the preliminary numbers will provide an additional $326 per person.

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Rocky Brown manages Maricopa’s parks and recreation facilities and activities, including Copper Sky Multigenerational & Aquatics Center. This year he won two statewide awards for being an outstanding young leader. Photo by Adam Wolfe

For five years, Maricopa Recreation Manager Rocky Brown has expanded the classes and programs the city offers to the community.

It has not gone unnoticed. In August, he received an Employee Excellence Award from the city. Then he received two statewide awards: the Emerging Leader Award from the Gabe Zimmerman Public Service Awards and the Young Professional Award from the Arizona Parks and Recreation Association.

Brown calls the Zimmerman award “one of the most humbling experiences of my life.”

He drew notice for establishing the city’s Youth Council, the largest in the state, and award-winning Maricopa in Motion Mobile Recreation.

“The opportunity to create programs and activities from scratch was something that I thought was a great opportunity,” Brown says. “Just to be able to come out here and be creative and open new facilities made me feel like a pioneer.”

A young pioneer at that. Brown is 33 years old. He and his wife Tiffany have four children, so they know a bit about youth activities.

Like many city officials before him, Brown came to the city of Maricopa from Mesa. A long journey from Grand Island, Nebraska, first brought him to the Grand Canyon State.

After earning his bachelor’s degree from Arizona State University and a master’s degree from Northern Arizona University, Brown worked in the car business with his father. Despite the success and wealth he found, he felt the need to do more; he felt a calling to make a difference in his community.

“My father-in-law was a firefighter for the city of Mesa for 40 years, and I thought serving the community you live in was the most honorable job you could have,” Brown says. “He was my mentor in government and got me interested in community service. He actually pushed me out of being a fireman because it’s hard to be a fireman and go to church every Sunday, so parks and recreation was more of a natural fit for what I want to do. I want to do something that my kids will be proud of one day.”

“I want to do something that my kids will be proud of one day.” – Rocky Brown

While working for the Mesa Parks and Recreation Department, Brown’s job typically consisted of maintaining the infrastructure built over the last 50 years. When an opportunity to come to Maricopa arose, Brown jumped at the chance to build something from the ground up.

From his first day in the Community Services Department as the youth coordinator, the staff around him knew he was going to be special for the city.

“He’s an incredible individual,” management analyst Brenda Campbell says. “From the day he started he has been a great relief to me. I’ve watched him grow over the last five years. At a young age he has made a huge impact on the community.”

The 2014 opening of Copper Sky Mutigenerational Complex created countless possibilities for the city to add programs and activities. Once Brown was promoted to recreation manager that year, this became his mission.

“He’s a great guy to work for,” Recreation Coordinator Heather Lozano says. “He helps all of us strive to be better and achieve more. He’s a great boss, and he doesn’t hold us back from trying new things and bringing in new programs.”

On a daily basis, Brown oversees all the programs and memberships taking place at Copper Sky. He and the nine members of the staff who report to him try to come up with ways to engage the community.

“He is the definition of a team player,” says his boss, Community Services Director Kristie Riester. “He loves what he does, and work never seems like work for him. He does whatever it takes to get the job done, and his love for the community always comes through.”

Brown and his staff at Copper Sky continue to build their membership base and increase the programs offered.

“I want us to keep helping people meet their goals and improve their lives,” Brown says. “We’re always thinking of creative things to try and new things to do. We’d love to have a rock wall, increase our equipment upstairs and offer more programs and classes, but we know money is an object so we want to focus on making sure we are offering the best classes we can and making sure people feel like they’re in a safe environment.

“Copper Sky isn’t just a city building, it’s the central gathering point for the community,” Brown says. “We want to make sure we stay ahead of the curve.”

This story appeared in the Winter Edition of InMaricopa The Magazine.

This week's 2nd Saturday Market will include four new vendors. Photo by Donna Atkins

The Second Saturday Market will return to Copper Sky Regional Park this weekend to offer local residents discounted rates on produce.

“We will have four new vendors this month,” Maricopa Special Events and Marketing Manager Niesha Whitman said. “It gives us a total of 24. So it’s our largest market so far.”

Participants will have the option to enjoy breakfast from “Hot SOS.”

“We will have yoga in the park again as long as the weather allows it,” Whitman said. “Last time it was just too cold.”

Just like the two previous markets, Produce on Wheels will provide 60 pounds of produce for $10. Whitman wasn’t sure what each food box would feature yet, but event attendees are encouraged to show up early to ensure they receive the discounted goods.

There is a chance of bad weather affecting the market. Rainy, cold conditions hurt December’s market, but weekly storms are expected to clear out of the area by Saturday morning. Forecasts call for mostly sunny skies with temperatures in the low 40s.

Copper Sky officials have ideas for getting Maricopans outdoors.

The Maricopa Community Services Department has a plan to offer Maricopa residents educational and outdoor excursions through the Copper Sky Multigenerational Complex.

Specifics for the Maricopa Outdoor Recreation and Environmental Education (M.O.R.E.E.) program costs have not been defined, but initial plans include 12 trips for a wide range of outdoor experiences. Equipment rental and camping fees are included in trip costs, and any equipment not in use for a trip will be available to rent through Copper Sky.

“The goal of this is to add some additional programs that fit a need,” department coordinator Josh Bowman said. “The overall goal of M.O.R.E.E. is it strives to increase health and wellbeing while enhancing the Maricopa community as a whole. By utilizing outdoor environments, we give participants a positive outlook for self expression and discovery.”

At their Dec. 1 meeting, the city council members showed support for the program, but Vincent Manfredi had concerns about the cost to get the program started and the need for the program at all.

“We’re going to spend a lot of money on camping gear in hopes of getting a return on that investment through the renting of that gear,” Manfredi said. “For me, it seems we haven’t learned our lesson about buying stuff and trying to rent it out for money.”

City Manager Gregory Rose said that issue would be brought back for a work session.

“I for one am actually very supportive of this,” Mayor Christian Price said. “One of the things we are always trying to do at Copper Sky is provide more value to our customers. While I understand there is a capital outlay here, if the numbers add up to where there is a cost recovery that goes into it, how is that any different than what we do at Copper Sky currently?”

Bowman said six participants would be needed to allow each trip to break even, and trips would be cancelled without that minimum met.

The Community Services Department is expected to bring the M.O.R.E.E. program back to city council after adjustments are made to the program’s budget.

M.O.R.E.E. Proposed Programs
Jan. 26        Birding Trip
Feb. 6        Camelback Day Hike
Feb. 9        Biosphere 2
Feb. 20 & 27    Wilderness and Remote First Aid
Feb. 23        Phoenix Science Center
March 5-6    Reavis Ranch Backpacking
March 8    Kartchner Caverns
March 12-20    National Parks of Utah
March 22    Canyon Lake Dolly Boat Tour
March 29    Sedona & Montezuma Castle

This story appeared in the January issue of InMaricopa News.

Copper Sky Regional Park is pushing outdoor recreation with its M.O.R.E.E. program.
Copper Sky Regional Park is pushing outdoor recreation with its M.O.R.E.E. program.

After the success of last month’s re-launch of the Second Saturday Market at Copper Sky Regional Park, the city of Maricopa brought in extra produce to entice more residents to come out. However, despite the extra food, the market saw approximately the same number of customers participate.

Cold weather and strong winds may have played a factor in the smaller attendance, but unlike last month, December’s market had produce left over.

“This is something that’s awesome,” Maricopa Special Events and Marketing Manager Niesha Whitman said. “You can’t beat getting 60 pounds of produce for $10. The city is just always looking for ways to engage our community.”

The food was provided by Produce of Wheels, and some local vendors braved the weather conditions to provide customers with baked goods and clothing options as well.

Maricopa residents who missed out on this month’s market will have another chance to attend the farmers market on Jan. 9. The city is expected to host a new market each month through May.

The Snow Zone was busy during Saturday's MerryCopa at Copper Sky. Photo by Adam Wolfe

Maricopa residents got a taste of winter with an ice skating rink and snow pile during the second annual MerryCopa Holiday Festival at Copper Sky Regional Park Saturday night.

Hundreds of local residents came out to celebrate the holidays with family and friends during the six-hour event. Bounce houses, sledding and ice skating were set up for children, and adults enjoyed food and entertainment from local vendors and performers.

“We have it all going on out here today,” Maricopa Community Services Special Events Manager Niesha Whitman said. “We wanted to do something to celebrate the holidays and bring everyone together.”

Participants competed in a gingerbread house contest and an attendance competition where they tried to receivee stamps on their “passports” from various locations around the event.

Winners of the different age groups for the gingerbread house competition received a $100 gift card to Holiday Ham, and the winner of the “passport” drawing received a freshly cut Christmas tree and ornaments to put on it.

“We love this event and we’re trying to make it bigger and better for you each year,” Maricopa Mayor Christian Price said.

Before the event came to a close, Price led a countdown to light the park’s Christmas tree.

Also during the event, Shaela Norris was crowned Miss Estrella Mountains Outstanding Teen.

Maricopa scored a big win in the effort for an overpass at the Union Pacific crossing on State Route 347 by landing a federal TIGER grant of $15 million. Photo by Michael Barnes

In a boost to the effort to build an overpass, the city of Maricopa has landed a $15 million discretionary grant from the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) program.

TIGER VII grants from the U.S. Department of Transportation are dedicated to building or repairing road, rail, transit and port projects with potential national impact.

U.S. Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick led a delegation letter to USDOT Secretary Anthony Foxx to approve the funding.

“I want to thank Congresswoman Kirkpatrick for her steadfast and persistent efforts in obtaining this $15 million TIGER grant,” Maricopa Mayor Christian Price said. “She has championed this project since she was elected to Congress and has been our strongest advocate and greatest ally. Without her efforts, I am certain this project would not have come to fruition. We can’t thank her enough for her incredible support.”

The $15 million will support Maricopa’s efforts to construct a grade-separated highway overpass on a new alignment at the intersection of State Route 347, which the letter to Foxx noted is “one of the most dangerous rail crossings in Arizona.”

The project will also construct a double track rail line and relocate an existing passenger station, and will construct rail siding to provide off-main rail line loading and unloading of passenger trains.

Though Maricopa did not put all of its hopes in the TIGER grant basket, it was pushing hard and gathering county, state and tribal support for the grade separation. Price highlighted the importance of the TIGER grant again in his State of the City address this month.

“This is a major breakthrough for a project that is needed more urgently now than ever,” said Kirkpatrick, who serves on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. “This is the fastest growing area of Arizona, and the current grade crossing is affecting congestion, school bus routes and overall public safety. Building an overpass is the only way to resolve this dangerous situation, and I am thrilled that Maricopa now has the resources to move forward.”

The Arizona Department of Transportation has the planned overpass on its five-year plan. It is currently under design by engineers. Once design is 30 percent complete, expected sometime next year, the city can begin working with landowners to acquire property in the path of the overpass.

On the current schedule, actual construction of the overpass will start in 2020.

Urgency for this project has increased along with Pinal County’s rapid growth, which has led to congestion and traffic nightmares at the crossing. In the letter to Foxx, Kirkpatrick noted the crossing also “presents problems for emergency and hazardous materials vehicles that must often sit and wait for trains to pass or worse, stall traffic for more than 20 minutes as Amtrak load and unload passengers at the station next to the crossing.”

Other congressmen who signed the May 25 letter to Foxx were Trent Frank, Matt Salmon, Raul Grijalva, Paul Gosar, David Schweikert, Ruben Gallego, Martha McSally and Krysten Sinema.

Mayor Christian Price painted a picture of a hard-working city in his State of the City address Thursday. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

Mayor Christian Price hit familiar notes in his annual State of the City address Thursday night, and there was an echo of unanswered questions about Maricopa’s future.

Price said a main goal of economic development was to “improve the quality of life” of residents but also quickly said he would have no major announcement about pending new businesses.

The city’s Estrella Gin Business Park is still waiting to be developed with flex space off Edison Road once the road is extended to State Route 238. The city received a $250,000 grant for the extension last year with little movement accomplished in 2015.

Price said terms of use for the land affected by the road extension have to be negotiated. “And we are on the verge of finishing those negotiations,” he said.

He said there are also privately owned, retail developments in the works to be announced within the year. He said they will involve stores and eateries. Even before his speech, that was bearing out. Last week the city received a permit application for Edison Pointe, a 134,000-square-foot commercial center on the northeast corner of John Wayne Parkway and Edison Road.

“While this is taking time – it will continue to take time – there are things that we are working on, but it’s the developers who have to move forward,” he said.

The mayor, who is in his second term, spoke to a full house of community leaders at City Hall. His speech, entitled “Building a City,” drew on an iconic “Building a Rainbow” poster from the 1970s.

Like the poster, Price said, growing Maricopa requires a lot of moving parts.

Price addressed various aspects of the city’s victories and challenges, with help from council members in video form.

In economic development, Price touted the success of the Maricopa Advocate Program and the joining of the Canada Arizona Business Council. The mayor also pointed to a raise in the sales tax to reduce property tax in funding economic development.

Afterward, Maricopa Center for Entrepreneurship Executive Director Dan Beach said the CABC was news to him. He said he would like to see if MCE can be involved or put its resources to work in that Canadian relationship. MCE was established by the city as a business incubator.

The city continues to work on transportation and flood control. Price said getting state funding for the planned overpass on State Route 347 “was one of our biggest wins this year.”

Maricopa has again applied for a Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant. The U.S. Department of Transportation is awarding up to $500 million to various projects around the country. Price said Maricopa is hoping for $10 million to $15 million.

Having support from the State Transportation Board and the Ak-Chin Indian Community has brightened prospects for finally landing the TIGER grant.

“We are as close as we’ve ever been,” Price said. He continues to attend State Transportation Board meetings to be sure the funds budgeted for 2020 continue to be targeted at Maricopa’s overpass.

Price said the proposed Interstate 11 is the next big project for Maricopa’s transportation needs. So far, the I-11 corridor is planned only from Las Vegas to Wickenburg. Its full intention is to extend to the border with Mexico, possibly touching on Maricopa in the process.

“We hope to have it built – and I hate to say this – in our lifetime,” Price said.

The designation of the interstate to go border-to-border will take an act of Congress. Price said Maricopa became part of the Pinal County I-11 Coalition to have local voices heard.

“We are doing everything we can do to make sure I-11 comes through here,” he said. “I-11 will transform this area forever. We have to make this happen.”

Also affecting the ability of Maricopa to grow is the flood plain. The city’s geographic location in the watershed for the Santa Cruz and Santa Rosa rivers has been a challenge since before incorporation.

“It is impossible for the city to build with your tax dollars in a flood plain,” Price said.

Maricopa is part of the Lower Santa Cruz River Alliance. It is working on a project to build a northern Santa Cruz channel with the intent of getting more land out of the flood plain.

“It’s happening because we will not give up on this project,” the mayor said.

Chad Chadderton of Ahwatukee Realty in Maricopa said he always learns something at the State of the City address, and the information on flood control grabbed his interest. “That’s very important to real estate values,” he said.

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Whether intentional by proactive design or inadvertent by miscommunication (what the city referred to as “striping mistake of our roadway contractor”), bike lanes were created on the eastern half of Honeycutt Road this summer. They subsequently became embroiled in the debate over the speed limit along that corridor, with city staff ultimately deciding to remove the bike lanes in lieu of decreasing the speed limit. The reaction from local cyclists was mixed.

•    “Maricopa needs to share the road. With growing communities and more children going to our schools we need the bike lanes.” – Jamie Cunningham-Knudsen

•    “I’d be interested to see the math behind the impact of changing the speed limit on that section – how many minutes (let’s be honest, seconds) more do folks take to get across that eastern stretch of Honeycutt if the speed limit is 35 instead of 45?

“I’m irritated and upset that people find those seconds more valuable than the safety of the cyclists using the new lanes. I feel like the three-foot law actually winds up causing more of a slow down than switching the speed limit does – most folks honor it (even on that stretch), so they slow down or stop to have the room to pass.”  – Janean Jump

•    “The math is pretty easy to do. At 35 mph it takes 1.72 minutes to travel one mile. At 45 mph it takes 1.33 minutes to travel one mile. The difference is about 23 seconds per mile traveled.

“One of the biggest reasons my wife and I bought a home in Maricopa is that it has a great quality of life for its residents. Safe streets for cyclists and pedestrians are integral to having a great quality of life in a community. Increasing speed limits on our streets and removing bike lanes from them are moves in the wrong direction.” – Kevin Craig

A road with a poorly designed bike lane is actually more dangerous than a road without one.

•    “I think any road without a bike lane should have sign stating bikes may use full lane. I know we are not California, but it is the law here, too. You just don’t see any cities using these signs here to remind motorist.” –Richard Jackson

•    “A road with a poorly designed bike lane is actually more dangerous than a road without one. As a cyclist that lives in Tortosa and actually rides this stretch of road, I’m glad they are removing the bike lane. It was not even close to meeting the minimum national safety standards established by AASHTO and actually made the ride more dangerous.” – Brian Gould

Thanks to Maricopa writer Janet Buckwalter for gathering these opinions from the Maricopa Cycling Club.

This was published in the October edition of InMaricopa News.


A Culver's Restaurant might be coming to Maricopa, just south of QuikTrip on John Wayne Parkway.

Culver’s has submitted a pre-application to open a location at the Sonoran Creek Marketplace on the west side of the John Wayne Parkway south of Edison Road.

If the application and development plan is accepted, Culver’s would provide Maricopans another diner-style, fast-food restaurant. However, the restaurant must meet certain criteria before it can receive permission to build.

“All they have done is submit a pre-application,” Maricopa Zoning Administrator Kazi Haque said. “We will meet with all the internal departments to find everyone’s role, and then we meet with the organization. They’ll need to show they have adequate parking available, and the design must be approved by the Heritage District Citizen Advisory Committee.”

The property slated for the Sonoran Creek Marketplace is at the northern edge of the Heritage District.

If the development plan is approved, the city wants the process to move quickly to allow the new establishment to get opened as soon as possible.

“It’s very exciting to see this project begin,” Haque said. “It should open up the Heritage District. We are going to do all we can to help them develop.”

The Sonoran Creek Marketplace, owned by Sonoran Creek LLC, was approved for development in 2008. The project was put on hold after the economic downturn, but the city renewed approval in 2013.

Maricopa Interim Economic Development Director Denyse Airheart said the property owners,  are just in the preliminary stages right now. They only control about 60 percent of the property right now, but they do plan to turn it into a shopping center.”

According to Airheart, no other companies are set to go in yet. If the Culver’s is approved, it would be the first building put on the property.

Culver’s is known for its butter burgers and milkshakes, but they also offer many chicken and fish options.

The next restaurant slated to open in Maricopa is Freddy’s Frozen Custard & Steakburgers at Maricopa Station, slated to be open by mid-November if not earlier.

This October, a stranger may knock on your door.

Maricopa City Council has requested the U.S. Census conduct a Special Census in Maricopa. In order to gather accurate data, Census enumerators will carry out a citywide population count of Maricopa residents during the month. City officials hope to see the population of Maricopa eclipse the 43,482 population count from 2010, and most expect the number to rise above 50,000.

From the City of Maricopa website:

The goal is earn a “fair share” of state and federal monies the city may be entitled to if it can prove its population. Showing a population over 50,000 may also entice more brand-name business to look more closely at the city.

Starting on Thursday, Census workers will go door to door for a meticulous canvass of all residents.

They will have official badges from the Census Bureau.

From the City of Maricopa:

Here’s how you can help…
Answer Your Door to the Census Workers
The best way you can help is to simply answer your door, take the survey and be counted!
Spread the Word
Make sure your neighbors, family and friends understand the importance of Maricopa’s Special Census and being counted.
Feel Confident
Know that Maricopa Census workers are primarily local residents who have gone through extensive background checks and are sworn to keep your information confidential.

Helpful Census Tips:
Check the Badge
Each U.S. Census worker will be wearing a Bureau-issued identification badge.
Check Your Front Door
If a Census worker stops by and you’re not home, they will leave a note on your front door with additional information on how you can complete your Census survey.
Call the Maricopa Special Census office at 520-374-0138 to verify a census worker or ask questions.

Passengers board an Amtrak train at 5:45 a.m. at the Maricopa station. Trains generally stop for 10 minutes, blocking SR 347 in the process. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

By Raquel Hendrickson

When an Amtrak train pulls into the Maricopa station, it does not stop just once.

The platform is only long enough to allow access to one baggage car and one passenger car. The train stops the first time for the first access, and then it pulls forward and stops again for access to more baggage and more passengers. And then it does so again.

It is a 10-minute procedure. For most of that time, the train is stopping the traffic flow on State Route 347.

It is why a proposal for moving the Amtrak station is an integral part of planning for an overpass across the Union Pacific Railroad tracks at SR 347.

The start of construction on the grade separation is at least five years away, but the plan has several moving pieces. Arizona Department of Transportation has its responsibilities, and the City of Maricopa has its tasks.

Among the latter is the Amtrak station, which will be in the path of the overpass, whatever the final design of the grade separation. Public Works Director Bill Fay said the move has two components. One is the concept plan for track alignment near Garvey Avenue, where the new station will be located. The other is the design of transportation center and alignment of Garvey itself.

The first component dealing with the railroad tracks is at about 30 percent design completion in manpower. Fay said on a typical road project, 30 percent is the last chance to make big changes.

“I’ve never been through a railroad right-of-way project that is entirely within the railroad’s right of way,” he said. “I don’t know that there are very big changes that one can make.”

Though the move of the Amtrak station west to the city’s Estrella Gin property involves Amtrak property and UPRR right of way, the early stages of design fall to the city. Amtrak officials consider the Maricopa staff to be spearheading the project and will say little to nothing about the plan.

Union Pacific has review powers but is equally reticent in the early stages. “UP is consulting on the track design, but other than that, we don’t have much to add,” said UPRR spokesman Francisco Castillo Jr.

“Hopefully at 60 (percent) but no later than 90, it will go before Union Pacific to review,” Fay said. “We would love for them to review it now, but their policy is 90 percent.”

UPRR has “relatively strong” veto power, Fay said. “But this makes sense. They don’t want to review it while it’s still in preliminary stages. But 90 percent is pretty deep in the process. The problem is their review can take up to 18 months. So that’s a little hard to swallow when you’ve got to get to 90 percent design first and then wait 18 months for them to review.”

He said UPRR reserves 18 months for review but does not always take 18 months. There is also the possibility Maricopa could submit its design plans before they are at 90 percent completion. In the meantime, ADOT and the city can be moving forward on the overpass project, Fay said.

Amtrak trains are not as long as the far-more-numerous freight trains on the UPRR lines but can hold up traffic even longer than the longest freight train.

Maricopa is the Phoenix station for Amtrak, a stopping point for lines between Los Angeles and New Orleans, or L.A. and Chicago (or just about anywhere else in the East if you make the right connections). Amtrak trains stop in Maricopa early in the morning – commuting time for many residents – and in the evening.

Fay said a preliminary project could be a temporary fix until the station is moved. That project would extend the asphalt platform east so it would be long enough for the train to pull off of SR 347.

The new station to be located at the Estrella Gin site on Garvey will be in what is currently being called a transportation center and a transit hub. The conceptual plan for that is at about 15 percent design, Fay said.

The civil conceptual design is contracted to a Phoenix firm.

“The piece that isn’t in there is, what is the new train station going to look like?” Fay said. “The city has money budgeted in its Capital Improvement Program (CIP) potentially to relocate the existing station to the new location.”

However, in the past some council members and some members of the Maricopa Historical Society have expressed an interest in creating a station that is a better aesthetic fit in the Heritage District. Though station design plans go to Amtrak at some point, Fay said Amtrak has expressed it “really does not care what the station looks like.”

If the city council does decide to go with a new building, the process of hiring an architect and other related tasks would be built into the timetable for the move. Ideas for a historic-looking station are mostly inspired by photos of the former station in Maricopa.

The ideas have been included in the Maricopa General Plan, and city staff has been asking for public feedback.

“The better info we get from the public the more reinforcement staff can portray to our leadership and say, ’Hey, the public wants to see this,’” senior planner Rudy Lopez said.

Lopez said when the project moves forward, the city should be working more closely with the historical society. “They’re a great organization and growing, so obviously that’s to our advantage,” he said. “We’re having this discussion now for the next generation of the city.”



Kent Brooksby has been serving as interim finance director since July 21. Courtesy photo

By Raquel Hendrickson

The Finance Department at Maricopa City Hall is looking for a new head.

Brian Ritschel, who received a certificate of recognition for Budget Preparation in June, resigned to take a job with the City of Mesa in July. He is now that city’s deputy director of the Management & Budget Department.

Maricopa posted the financial services director position on Aug. 4.

Ritschel gave two weeks’ notice, City Manager Gregory Rose said, allowing the city time to use its contract with Interim Public Management to find a temporary replacement. Mesa certified public accountant Kent Brooksby came on board so quickly, he still had about a week to work with Ritschel.

Brooksby has been serving as Maricopa’s interim finance director since July 21. He has bachelor’s degrees in accounting from Arizona State University and psychology from Brigham Young University and a master of education degree – counseling and guidance from BYU.

Brooksby was the finance director for Pinetop-Lakeside for nearly 15 years and was the interim finance director for Paradise Valley the past seven months. The founder of the nonprofit Blue Ridge Education Foundation, he calls himself a “good communicator, both verbal and written.”

He has a three-month contract with an option to extend. If a permanent director is found before the contract is up, it can be ended with a 30-day notice, Rose said.

“The Finance Department is so critical,” Rose said. “It’s wonderful to have that contract with Interim Public Management and be able to move quickly with his replacement.”

Rose said he was grateful Ritschel waited to make his decision until after the budget process was complete. “I enjoyed working with him and think very highly of him,” Rose said.

The finance director’s responsibilities include the budget, payroll and purchasing. The minimum qualification is a bachelor’s degree in accounting or finance. The preferred qualifications are a master’s degree in accounting and CPA certification.

The listed salary range is $93,864-$128,703 per year.

“We’ve been very fortunate, when people have left, of picking up high-quality people,” Rose said.

This is the third time the city has had to replace a department head this year.

After the resignation of Micah Miranda in December to work for the City of Chandler, the Economic Development Department has had two interim directors. In the Development Services Department, Martin Scribner was hired to replace Robert Goodhue, who went to work for the City of Peoria.

Rose said while Maricopa draws top-quality employees because of its vicinity to large cities, it is in competition with those cities for staff.

“We have outstanding employees, and they have left for larger organizations and a promotion,” Rose said. “Frustrating, yes, but we are going to continue to try to make it a tough decision for them to leave and to make sure that they are aware their contributions are valued.”