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City of Maricopa

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.

EconomicDevelopment@Maricopa-AZ.gov
520-316-6990

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.

EconomicDevelopment@Maricopa-AZ.gov

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.”

Amtrak2Amtrak3

 

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.”

Public Works Director Bill Fay has been looking for ways to bring the stalled Edison Road extension into budget. The extension will be the access to the planned Estrella Gin Business Park. Photo by Adam Wolfe

By Adam Wolfe
@Adam_Wolfe

The project to extend Edison Road from Firehouse 575 to State Route 238 is still moving forward, but at half the size.

“We designed what we wanted, and the scope came back at $6.5 million,” Public Works Director Bill Fay said. “The program was created a long time ago without much of a scope, and was estimated for $3 million. We also thought Global Water would be helping with the costs, but that’s not the case.”

The original plan was for Edison Road to feature four lanes accessing the future Estrella Gin Business Park while providing an alternative connection between SR 238 and SR 347. The initial $3 million estimate was set by a program, and Fay said current officials are unsure where the number originated.

However, due to a the change in cost estimates and stalled negotiations among the city, Global Water and neighboring landowners, the project will move forward as a two-lane road.

“We always intended for Edison to reach the 238,” Fay said. “The issue is whether or not the utility lines will reach that far.”

If the city moved forward with its plan to build a four-lane road, there is a high likelihood it would have to tear up the road later to insert the utility lines, he said.

According to Mayor Christian Price, the construction companies aren’t the only issue when it comes to negotiations. Both Global Water and landowners will have a say in the project details as well.

“The city only controls one-third of the project,” Price said. “Ongoing negotiations between us, Global Water and private landowners will help shape the cost estimate. Some assumptions were made when the project started, but in a five- to 10-year projection, you work through stages of development.”

Jason Thuneman, director of the project management office for Global Water, said the city is responsible for constructing on-site water and wastewater utility lines. Lines under a four-lane road to SR 238 would have to extend the full length of the roadway, he said.

“ If the City decides to proceed with only a two-lane roadway at this time, water and wastewater line extensions can be completed in the future at the same time the additional lanes are installed since the infrastructure under this roadway is not necessary until the property north of Estrella Gin is ready to develop and requires service,” Thuneman said.

The city bought the Estrella Gin property for $3.2 million in 2011 and paid almost $48,000 for a feasibility study for a business park. The new fire station is already on the property, a Public Works building is being constructed, and the Amtrak station will be moved to the site.

“Global’s role with respect to Estrella Gin was to extend  water and wastewater to the property line, which was completed in 2011, prior to construction of the Estrella Gin Fire Station,” Thuneman said.

Last year, the city received a $250,000 Rural Economic Development Grant from the Arizona Commerce Authority to help extend Edison and access future businesses and facilities. There are 40 acres available for business development.

The change in the extension for Edison Road creates potential problems for the development of business in the area. The Estrella Gin Business Park has already seen significant delays.

“We originally wanted to purchase our own land and build, but we had meetings with [members of the city government] and the development company regarding space in Estrella Gin,” Shipfr8 Chief Operating Officer Peter Cockle said. “They told us they would break ground and even provided opening dates. Those dates have since come and gone.”

Cockle, who has lived in Maricopa for the last seven years, was expecting to be in his new business location by January 2014. His hope is to provide jobs to Maricopa residents and boost the local economy, but his inability to get into a permanent location is making that goal hard to achieve. The delays have forced Cockle to consider moving his business to accommodating cities.

“Realistically for a business to develop, it has to be outside of Maricopa,” Cockle said. “There just isn’t business space readily available. Mayor Price has been a tremendous supporter for us, but what happens when he leaves office? Businesses that want to develop in Maricopa may have to look to cities such as Casa Grande and Gilbert that have the space already created.”

Cockle feels developing businesses are unable to make proper plans in Maricopa due to lack of adequate business-ready space. Maricopa has plenty of space for potential development, but few business parks are “move-in ready.” Projects such as the Edison Road extension will help address the issue, but the project’s unknown completion date doesn’t address the immediate need, he said.

The city’s need is access to the property.

Until utility lines reach SR 238, it is fiscally irresponsible to build four lanes in case they need to be torn up to place the lines, Price said.

“[Edison] Road will connect to the 238, but we want to make sure we do it right,” Price said. “If [Edison] is going to be developed, utilities have to be put in. I’d rather do it right the first time. We don’t want to build the road just to tear it back up later.”

Electrical District No. 3 is prepping a 12,000-volt line extension on Edison Road to SR 238. ED3 Director of Engineering and Operations Larry Yates said a preliminary design has been submitted to the city for review.

ED3 completed the new service extension to the fire station and has a construction agreement for the Public Works building. The utility is also working on a power line conflict review for the relocation of the Amtrak station to the Estrella Gin site.

“One advantage the city has that should have a positive marketing impact for the Estrella Business Park  is there are 12,000-volt three-phase primary lines installed around the perimeter of the property, with the power line extension that is being designed for the Edison Road Project, which should add significant value to the property as it could lower the cost for electric service,” Yates said.

ED3 itself owns a small parcel of land adjoining the south side of the business park. Yates said with the final design unknown, “it is difficult to determine if that property will have any positive or negative impact for ED3.”

Last year, the city received a $250,000 Rural Economic Development Grant from the Arizona Commerce Authority to help extend Edison and access future businesses and facilities. There are 40 acres available for business development, but that development has stalled with the road extension.

Despite the monetary setback, Fay is confident the extension will be completed. For that to happen, the project design had to change.

“With construction companies, you can either tell them what you want and they can tell you what it costs, or you can tell them what you can spend and they’ll tell you what you can get,” Fay said. “We are going to have a through-road from the firehouse to Highway 238, but we don’t know if the needed utility lines will reach that far.”

The project is moving forward but starting small.

“Four lanes would be ideal, but that may not happen right away,” City Manager Gregory Rose said. “We believe it will be two lanes (as a start). This allows us to add the utility lines and two extra lanes later.”

By cutting two lanes off the initial design, the city is able to save money on the project as well, though the cost may still be higher than original estimates.

According to Rose, the only project the city is planning to allocate funds from to help pay for the road is a “right-of-way improvement bill” for City Hall.

“The [right-of-way] project was a low priority,” Fay said. “It may not have happened for a few years anyway, so allocating the money should not have any effect.”

The extra money should allow the city to move forward with the Edison project. Negotiations will continue with Global Water and landowners to make the four-lane expansion happen, but even if the “ideal” expansion is delayed, the city intends to complete it.

“We don’t necessarily have a backup plan for the project,” Price said. “It’s all about prioritizing the priorities. We’ll make adjustments at each stage of the design, but we are going to build all the way to the 238.”

It’s unclear at this time where the city will find more budget cuts if needed for the project. However, Fay and his team will be looking into all of their options at each stage of the design.

“We are making adjustments everywhere we can,” Fay said. “We have a history of finishing projects on time and under budget. It’s not completely clear, but we’ll find out how much it’ll cost and how much (funding) we have.”

The Edison Road extension was initially planned as a four-lane road, but new plans will build it as two lanes until utilities go in.  Photo by Raquel Hendrickson
The Edison Road extension was initially planned as a four-lane road, but new plans will build it as two lanes until utilities go in. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson
A fire station is at the end of Edison Road, and a Public Works is under construction on its west side. Estrella Gin Business Park is to go in on the north side. Photo by Michael Barnes
A fire station is at the end of Edison Road, and a Public Works is under construction on its west side. Estrella Gin Business Park is to go in on the north side. Photo by Michael Barnes

Dan Marum (right) is a consultant with Wilson & Company, hired by the city of Maricopa to conduct traffic studies in the region. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

By Raquel Hendrickson

An overpass is one of the most certain elements on the Maricopa Area Transportation Plan.

Its purpose of improving traffic flow through the city could be the impetus for creating three northbound lanes from Smith-Enke Road to the Rancho El Dorado entry. It could also be the lure for bringing the proposed Interstate 11 closer to Maricopa.

It is a stable point in the city’s draft Transportation Master Plan, which is filled with projects to improve how Maricopans will get around for the next 25 years.

Developer Forum 072215

Some proposals, however, have a lot of question marks, though they continue to appear on planning maps. Developers Seth Keeler and Scott Cole are not happy about that.

Both have pending developments in the crosshairs of some of the transportation improvement ideas. Some red-flagging is in order, from their perspective, as Phase 1 moves forward. The draft was presented to the Maricopa City Council Aug. 4 after an open house.

The overpass on John Wayne Parkway across Union Pacific Railroad tracks has long been a darling for planners and now has a promise of state funding in five years. It will contribute to a goal of the transportation portion of Maricopa’s 2040 Vision: “Create an adequate intra-city road network.”

Another grade separation across the UPRR tracks at the junction of Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway and White & Parker Road is proposed for the far more distant future. The idea was introduced in 2010.

The plan is to tie that grade separation into the proposed East-West Corridor by extending Farrell Road on the west side of the railroad tracks.

Cole represents the Santa Cruz Ranch project, which is in an unincorporated area adjacent to the city limits. The new corridor would run through his property.

He has voiced his complaints to the city council more than once about the proposed road placement. Cole Enterprises has an agreement with Pinal County about just that kind of situation.

“We cannot be required to put roads in Santa Cruz Ranch,” he said at a meeting for developers to look at the draft transportation plan. “We’ve said this at every meeting like this. That public comment never shows up anywhere. We never get any feedback.”

Transportation and Transit Director David Maestas emphasized it is a preliminary draft of the area transportation plan. Geographical and hydrological features in the area are dictating the placement of that corridor so far. In particular, Santa Rosa Wash plays a part in all movement in that area.

Dan Marum, transportation planning manager for Wilson & Company, the city’s consultant, said the corridor ideas are basic and simply lines on a map rather than written in stone at this stage.

“It’s not just a line on a map,” Cole countered. “If I hear that again I’ll go crazy.”

Keeler requested a red box be placed on the proposed maps to indicate a problem area as a reminder to all planners.

Keeler, who represents W Holdings in Tempe, also has a point of contention with the proposed alignment of Farrell Road. On project maps, it would cut southwest through his property before connecting to State Route 347.

He brought up his dissatisfaction with that proposal during the first Developer Outreach Forum the city’s transportation planners hosted in April. So he was surprised to see the same configuration at the second meeting in July.

“It looks like everything we told staff hasn’t been taken into account,” Keeler said.

Maestas described the current alignment of Farrell Road as a “fatal flaw” in the effort to make it a four-lane corridor because it would impact land belonging to the Ak-Chin Indian Community. That, he said, is why the alternative is to angle it south.

Marum said Phase 1 of the Transportation Master Plan was to find ideas to deal with needs, not agreements. “In Phase 2, we’ll be planning alternatives that can address those concerns,” he said.

While Maricopa has challenges on Farrell Road, its more immediate attention is on State routes 347 and 238. The Arizona Department of Transportation has shown little interest in widening SR 347 to six lanes and there is a local push to find another route to Interstate 10, but Marum has faith improvements can be made to the 347 traveling experience.

“We want to avoid the stigma that 347 is broken,” he said. “We have a small window to get out in front of that.”

Maricopa Area Transportation Plan
• Phase 1 – Transportation Master Plan, Regional Connectivity Plan
• Phase 2 – Plan Implementation Support
• Projected population in 2040: 138,000
• Projected population at total build-out: 600,000

Regional Connectivity Plan Goals & Objectives
• Update transportation planning framework to support City development patterns and those of surrounding communities
• Examine roadway network to assure functions match community growth and needed regional connections
• Plan for multimodal connections to surrounding communities
• Provide long-term guidance on right-of-way requirements for regional facilities