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Copper Sky

Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

In a drizzle that turned into a lengthy downpour, Maricopa Mud Run got in two rounds, including the competitive race that saw Steve Campbell winning for the second straight year and Shell Abbott leading the women’s division.

Competitors who signed up for later rounds have the option of returning to the course Nov. 3, race organizer Matthew Reiter said.

While the obstacles at Copper Sky were built to be challenging, the weather conditions made the mud around the obstacles dangerously slick.

The first round with the top competitors had the best weather of the day, allowing Campbell to repeat last year’s feat. H said he runs the race to be part of the community. A teacher at Leading Edge Academy, Campbell moved to last year just before the Mud Run.

“It’s just meeting people and getting to know them,” he said. “These kids have come in second, and we’ve become good friends.”

This story has been updated to reflect a new date for the remainder of the Mud Run.







About 18 acres of land is waiting to be commercially developed at Copper Sky.

Maricopa could have a hotel in place by 2020 if a newly signed agreement with Commercial Properties Inc. (CPI) goes according to plan.

Cecil Yates, property management director for CPI, told the Maricopa City Council he already had three hotel users interested. CPI was selected in May to develop 18.3 acres at Copper Sky for mixed-use commercial, including a hotel.

A master planning and marketing agreement approved by council Tuesday is in place for three years, with three one-year extension options. It gives CPI 30 days to present a master plan for what is currently called Copper Sky Commercial Property.

Besides a hotel, planned uses of the property include retail, offices and restaurants.

Economic Development Director Denyse Airheart said the project has the “potential to be a destination.”

The agreement’s goal is to have a hotel of up to 100 units in place July 1, 2020. Yates said the timing possibilities are a year to 18 months from the time building designs are approved.

“They want to stick shovels in the ground as soon as possible,” Yates said.

Once CPI has a hotel commitment, it must notify the City whether it intends to purchase or lease the property for the hotel.

Jalen Lee (PCSO photo)

Detectives investigating an assault on a minor at Copper Sky nabbed the accused offender with a long rap sheet last week.

Maricopa Police arrested 21-year-old Jalen Lee Aug. 2 on suspicion of aggravated assault against a minor under 15 years of age. He’s also suspected of armed robbery, assault with a deadly weapon and other charges in 2016.

Lee’s most recent arrest came nearly one month after the alleged assault took place at Copper Sky Park July 5.

At that time, officers responded to reports of a fight at Copper Sky where a minor told them he was approached by two men he didn’t know, according to a Maricopa Police Department report.

One man reportedly asked the victim how old he was. When the minor told him, the other male, later identified as Lee, allegedly said, “I don’t give a f—” and struck the victim in the face.

“(The victim) stated he fell to the ground and was hit by the same unknown person multiple times,” the report alleges.

The two men then fled the scene, but not before several people witnessed the altercation, according to the report.

An older friend who was with the victim at the time of the alleged assault but had run away at the sight of the two men approaching spoke with MPD later that night. The friend told police he has a “beef” with Lee and identified Lee as the person who hit the victim, according to the report.

Detectives identified Lee as their primary suspect and generated a photo lineup using Lee’s Arizona driver’s license.

At the victim’s residence on Aug. 1, his mother told detectives she had learned new information in the weeks that had passed since the assault that would help in identifying the suspect. She said her son’s friend, who spoke with police in July, sent her a picture of Lee from Snapchat and identified him as the person who hit the victim, the report stated.

“(The victim’s friend) confessed to (the mother) that he had a ‘beef’ with (Lee), not (the victim),” according to the report.

The mother posted the Snapchat photo reportedly of Lee to Facebook and asked the public’s assistance in identifying him.

The report alleges several people came forward with Lee’s name, identifying him as the man in the photo.

The victim also identified the man in the photo as the person who assaulted him. Police said Lee’s driver’s license photo matched the man in the Snapchat image.

Police arrested and interviewed Lee the following day. Lee reportedly denied involvement in the assault and “claims officers have the wrong person,” according to the report. Lee is being held in the Pinal County Jail on a $50,000 bond on a slew of charges, most of them unrelated to the Copper Sky assault.

Lee is suspected of aggravated robbery (class 3 felony); armed robbery (class 2 felony); aggravated assault against a minor under 15 years of age (class 2 felony); aggravated assault using a deadly weapon or instrument (class 3 felony); and DUI.

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Photo by Michelle Chance

Nearly 70 Maricopa children participated in the World’s Largest Swim Lesson at Copper Sky Thursday. The annual global event promotes water safety awareness every year and continued in pools across the world June 21.

Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

Maricopa Police Department has never lost an officer on duty.

Chief Steve Stahl said he prays that day never comes. But Steve Stroud, a board member of the Maricopa Police Foundation, thinks it’s only a matter of time. In Salt Lake County in Utah, where he’s from, five officers have been lost in 25 years, he said.

The “fallen officers” memorial monument unveiled Monday morning contains no names, yet, but includes a metal U.S. flag on which names can be engraved. The monument stands in the plaza in front of the MPD substation north of Copper Sky Multigenerational Complex.

The dedication came a little later than planned, but Stahl said it was fitting it occurred a day before National Peace Officers Memorial Day, which was established in 1962 by President John F. Kennedy. The monument includes a quote from Kennedy: “As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.”

Police officers, staff from Maricopa Fire/Medical Department and elected officials attended the ceremony.

The plaza is full of brick pavers that are “sold” by the foundation to be inscribed “to honor the memory of a lost friend, family, or loved one or honor the career of an officer.”

“We officers know what we signed up for,” Stahl said. “Some families may not.”

Photo by Michelle Chance

Live music boomed under the blazing sun at the Maricopa Music Fest last weekend. It’s the second event hosted by Founder Chrystal Allen-O’Jon after the inaugural fest four years ago. The lineup spanned genres from indie, rock and reggae to rap. Entertainment ran from 1 p.m. to 10 p.m. at Copper Sky.

See photos at http://www.inmaricopa.com/photogallery/gallery4/ 


The Sun Life Chocolate Run is Saturday at Copper Sky.

The annual event that pairs people’s love of chocolate with exercise returns to Maricopa this month.

Sun Life Family Health Center will host the third annual “For the Love of Chocolate” Fun Run at Copper Sky on March 3.

Beginning at 8 a.m., participants can choose to run or walk the 1-mile or 3-mile course. A runner’s brunch will be available prior to and after the race as well as photo booths to capture the memory of the event.

Finishers will be rewarded with a bag of chocolate goodies, a chocolate donut medal and an event T-shirt.

Top three 5K finishers in various age groups will also receive winners’ medals.

Pre-registration costs $35 for the 1 mile/walk run and $40 for the 3-mile walk/run until March 2. A mail-in payment method is also available. Race-day registration is $40 per person for the 1-mile run/walk and $50 for the 3-mile run/walk.

“One of the things that people can keep in mind is Sun Life is Pinal County’s nonprofit community health center, and the run is a fun way to support a local nonprofit,” said Renee Louzon-Benn, director of community outreach.

It’s also a way to enjoy chocolate, which, in moderation, is considered a healthy treat, she said.

“(Chocolate) has health benefits, and we thought chocolate is fun and people enjoy it, so why not bring people, exercise and chocolate all into one event?”

Participants can pick up race packets March 2 from 4 to 7 p.m. at Sun Life Family Health Center, 44572 W. Bowlin Road. Packets can also be retrieved the morning of the event beginning at 7 a.m.


This story appears in the March issue of InMaricopa.

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Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

Feb. 24, the City of Maricopa hosted the annual Copa Color Run at Copper Sky, with participants running or walking a 3K or one mile while being dashed with colored powder. The fun run raises funds for recreational events at the city.

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The Aquatic Center is a large portion of the expenditures at Copper Sky. Photo by Mason Callejas


For the past 15 years, city councilmembers, city managers, planners and other administrators have emphasized different areas of growth and identity in an attempt to put Maricopa “on the map.”

Parks & Rec Debt Service
Voter approved 2008 for $65.5 million
Paid through secondary property tax
Started Jan. 1, 2014 at 3%
Ends July 1, 2030 at 6.335%
Ak-Chin grant $7.4 million ($1.48 million annually) ends July 1, 2019
Rate of return: 65%

In 2008, a major move was made to bolster that development when voters approved a $65.5 million bond measure to expand the city’s parks, recreation and library facilities. The bonds were placed on a 15-year amortization schedule and are to be paid in full by 2030 via a secondary property tax.

After almost five years of planning, flood mitigation and eventually construction, Copper Sky Regional Park and Multi-Generational Center opened in the spring of 2014 at a cost of $52 million. The facility, being brand new, was expected to create an initial budgetary deficiency, Mayor Christian Price said.

“We’ve never operated a facility like this before… so you look around and see how other cities do it,” Price said. “But you have to remember that as soon as this facility comes out of the ground, you have a giant hit to the General Fund.”

To help cushion that blow, a $7.4 million grant was awarded to the city by the AK-Chin Indian Community to be distributed over the course of five years at $1.48 million annually.

To prevent undue burden on the city when the grant runs out, Price said, council set a goal.

That goal, he said, was to generate enough revenue through usage fees to cover at least 75 percent of operational costs and eventually shrink that margin to cover 100 percent of the cost.

Now, as the city enters the fifth and final year of the Ak-Chin grant, administrators are sifting through the facility’s budget in an attempt to lower overhead and get the facility on track to self-sustainability.

Not only will the $1.48 million cushion be taken away after next fiscal year, but the city is currently experiencing only about a 65 percent return, Interim Community Services director Fred Gray said.

In July, former Community Services Director Kristie Reister presented a financial review of Copper Sky at a Budget, Finance and Operations (BFO) Subcommittee meeting in an effort to address the impending situation and to both reduce costs and increase revenue.

The aquatic center was heavily scrutinized for its high overhead. Other suggested cuts were to simple expenses such as office supplies and advertising.

Additionally, in light of the recent increase in state minimum wage, increasing membership rates to reflect an increase in general labor costs was discussed at the July BFO meeting. This is most likely to take the form of increased day-use fees to encourage the purchase of monthly and annual memberships.

However, when considering rate increases, Price wants to err on the side of caution.

“Where’s the break-even point? How much do you let go so that you subsidize that because that’s what the taxpayers demand?” Price said. “They want to use [Copper Sky] for an economical price.”

Gray has since replaced Reister as head of the Community Services Department on an interim basis.

Gray has extensive experience in Community Services, including more than a decade as Tuscon’s Parks and Recreations director. And though his time with the City of Maricopa is currently considered provisional, he does agree changes must be made.

However, he said, any changes need to be done in such a way they “don’t impact services.”

Though officials seem to be working hard to compensate for the lack of a grant, Financial Services Director Brenda Hasler insisted that despite any potential shortcomings in the Copper Sky budget the city would never be in jeopardy of defaulting on any bond payments. Doing so would mean a significant blow to the city’s credit rating, so the city would make other budget shifts to prevent that from happening.

“We budget conservatively,” Hasler said. “We never budget [overall] expenditures over and above revenues.”

Accordingly, as the city prepares for life without the Ak-Chin grant, they must consider the impact of an increased burden on the city’s General Fund, the fund that AKIC grant money was channeled through.

And therein lies the rub.

As Price put it, the city must continue to subsidize the facility in such a way that rates do not price out the residents. As Gray put it, the city should be leery of sacrificing services. And as Hasler put it, the city cannot default on its debt obligations.

Instead, a balancing act must be performed that in the end keeps residents happy, Copper Sky afloat and the city financially solvent.

Additionally, for those who suggest issuing the remaining $13 million bond money to compensate, Price said, no way. The city doesn’t want to over-leverage itself and risk its credit-worthiness.

“Just because your credit card limit says $100,000, does it mean you should spend $100,000 if you only make $50,000 a year? No, it doesn’t.”


This story appears in the February issue of InMaricopa.


Photo by Michelle Chance

Maricopans remembered the life of Martin Luther King Jr. Monday at Copper Sky. The third annual Martin Luther King Celebration featured appearances by notable city leaders, local youth groups and residents. Speeches from councilmembers Henry Wade, Marvin Brown and Vice Mayor Peg Chapados preceded one by keynote speaker Floyd Galloway. The sold out event featured live music, dancing and brunch.

Family Fishing Day was a chilly affair at Copper Sky Jan. 13. Photo by Michelle Chance

Anglers of all ages were greeted with perfect winter weather during the annual Family Fishing Day at Copper Sky Lake Saturday morning. The event, hosted by the City of Maricopa, included agents from the Arizona Game & Fish Department who provided fishing tips and equipment to attendees before a community barbecue sponsored by Fry’s Marketplace.

Click photos to enlarge.

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File photo

Anglers, both novice and experienced, will take to the lake at Copper Sky for the city’s annual Family Fishing Day.

The 14th annual event begins at 8 a.m. on Jan. 13. Participants can register online or onsite the morning of the event at 7. Fishing licenses are not required for participants.

The five-acre lake will be stocked with bass, catfish, rainbow trout, bluegill and white amur.

Each participant can keep up to four fish, said Niesha Whitman, City of Maricopa events and marketing coordinator.

As in previous years, the Arizona Game and Fish Department will provide fishing clinics and the city will issue “loaner” fishing kits with a rod, reel and bait to each participant. A fishing pole can also be purchased for $5.

The city will offer a barbecue lunch for participants at the event. The meal consists of a hot dog or pulled pork, cupcake, potato chips and a drink for $5.

One dollar can also buy children a goodie bag filled with prizes, Whitman said.



What: Maricopa Family Fishing Day

Where: Copper Sky Regional Park

When: Jan. 13, 8 a.m.

Info: Maricopa-AZ.gov

This story appears in the January issue of InMaricopa.

Photo by Dean Crandall

A company was granted a permit Nov. 9 to fill in an aesthetic opening between the first and second floors of Copper Sky Multigenerational Complex. Architekton, a subcontractor, is filling in the oculus opening that allows members in the workout room to see into the lobby. The $10,000 project is part of a larger project by CORE Construction to create room for more exercise equipment on the second floor to help Copper Sky’s revenue.

HRW Builders was granted a site-improvement permit Nov. 1 for a possible Jiffy Lube. The property is at 42100 W. Maricopa Casa-Grande Hwy.

Global Water-Santa Cruz Water Company received a rezoning permit Nov. 1 for the campus on the northwest corner for The Lakes at Rancho El Dorado as part of ongoing construction for its water reclamation facility. Global also received zoning permits for 30-foot antenna poles at Rancho El Dorado, Province, Homestead, Cobblestone and Smith-Enke Road.

Maricopa Renovations received a permit Oct. 18 for an illuminated black aluminum sign at 20024 N. John Wayne Parkway. On Nov. 7, Edison Pointe received a permit for two banners for the property at 20595 N. John Wayne Parkway.

Nov. 2, the City of Maricopa received a temporary use permit for its 2nd Saturday Maricopa Market at Sequoia Pathway Academy.

SAC Wireless was granted a permit Oct. 26 for a cell tower modification in Glennwilde. The project is valued at $9,000.

This item appears in the December issue of InMaricopa.

Still-dirty corners of city facilities have council looking at its cleaning-services contract anew. Submitted photo

The Maricopa City Council batted down the extension of a janitorial contract Tuesday due to what some members said was sub-par service.

The one-year contract, valued at nearly $340,000, was to be granted to Carnation Building Services Inc., the city’s previous janitorial service provider. However, Mayor Christian Price and others on council expressed dissatisfaction with both the quality of service and what they felt was an inadequate bidding process.

“I don’t want to say we haven’t been happy, but I can’t say that we’ve been thrilled with this particular service here,” Price said.

Both Price and Councilmember Vincent Manfredi referenced instances in which both constituents and themselves personally have been to Copper Sky Recreation Complex when the facilities were unusually dirty.

In photos submitted to InMaricopa, areas around Copper Sky can be seen to be only partially clean, with certain surfaces and areas behind furniture left dusty.

Price said one possible solution would be to divide the contract into multiple, smaller contracts. By doing this, he said, it would not only allow for a more fair and competitive bidding process but also may allow for more specialized janitorial services.

The contract currently includes the cleaning of City Hall, Copper Sky, the Fire Administration and Public Works offices and special events.  The broad scope of the contract, Price said, is where the city is going wrong.

“It makes me wonder if we haven’t hindered ourselves by putting together this entire quote, because they’re different things,” Price said.

Price compared it to going to Costco and needing mayonnaise but being forced to buy a tub of mayonnaise because it is all they offer.

“You might save some money in some respects, but you might waste a lot, too,” Price said.

Price suggested separating the contract into basic janitorial services and additional special events and/or Copper Sky services.

Public Works Director Bill Fay said the average number of received bids for any government contract is around 4.2 bids per contract. However, this contract received considerably less than that.

“My understanding is that there were two bids,” Fay said. “One was declared non-responsive, so that left one.”

That number could have much greater, Price said, if the contract were separated so businesses that specialize in offices could bid on a contract that doesn’t include special events or fitness centers.

Furthermore, Price said, by continuing the contract, the city is doing a disservice to paying members of Copper Sky who may notice the unclean areas and decide to discontinue their memberships.

Council ultimately voted to reject the current contract and directed city staff to reconfigure the contract.

Carnation Building Services will likely continue on a month-to-month contract until the matter is resolved.

FamiliPhoto by Mason Callejases gathered for outdoor fun Friday at Copper Sky. Photo by Mason Callejas

Copper Sky Regional Park hosted a Family Camp Out on Friday. Families brought tents and overnight provisions and connected through campfire stories, a scavenger hunt and an outdoor screening of Moana.

Photo by Michelle Chance

The 2017 version of Maricopa Mud Run drew hundreds of runners in multiple heats on Saturday at Copper Sky Regional Park. The fifth annual event sported a new course with new challenges along with the old favorites like the zipline. First finishers were Maricopa High School cross country runner Chet Carroll and fitness trainer Stephen Campbell. Winners of all categories received trophies and a chance to be photographed with Miss City of Maricopa Auna Littlejohn, Miss Pinal County Lindsay Hubbard, Miss City of Maricopa Outstanding Teen Mackenzie Ford and Miss Pinal County Outstanding Teen Terese Sanchez.

Frazier Show workers put up a carnival in the parking lot at Copper Sky. Photo by Michelle Chance

A surprise carnival seemingly sprouted in Maricopa overnight.

The carnival opens Thursday at 6 p.m. at Copper Sky’s south parking lot. Valley-based carnival company Frazier Shows will run the carnival through Sunday.

The event comes near the end of the first week of Stagecoach Days, a two-week celebration of Maricopa’s heritage.

A promotional coupon shared on social media sparked excitement – and confusion – for residents earlier this week who said they were surprised by the short-notice of the event, and questioned whether a carnival was really coming.

That rumor was laid to rest Tuesday when residents reported seeing carnival workers assembling rides at Copper Sky.

Interim Parks Director Fred Gray said a zoning hearing officer approved a temporary-use permit for organizers Tuesday night. Gray clarified the carnival is not a city-sponsored event, but a carnival that is occurring during Stagecoach Days.

“This sort of started through the special-event process, then when it got further along with staff reviews about what was required with regard to parking and dust control mitigation, at some point during that process it was determined that it was better to issue a temporary-use permit as opposed to a special-use permit because it wasn’t a city-sponsored event. It was more of a rental, so that sort of delayed it,” Gray said.

The city used to sponsor Stagecoach Days events in past years, but currently there is no central organizer for it. The city now promotes independent community events during the two-week period in October on its website.


Carnival Hours:

Thursday: 6-10 p.m.

Friday: 6-11 p.m.

Saturday: 2-11 p.m.

Sunday: 2-7 p.m.

Unlimited Ride Wristbands: (Only valid through certain hours)

Thursday: $20, from 6-10 p.m., $15 with coupon

Friday: None

Saturday: $20, 2-6 p.m., $15 with coupon

Sunday: $20, 2-6 p.m., $15 with coupon

One coupon per person is required. Wristbands are sold up to one hour before the special is over, according to an event flyer.

Visit the Frazier Shows Facebook Page for carnival coupons and more information.

Photo by Mason Callejas

The City of Maricopa will host its first ever Labor Day Pool Party at Copper Sky this weekend. The celebration will take place a day before the official holiday on Sept. 3 from noon to 4:30 p.m.

(Food Options) “Helen’s Kitchen at Copper Sky”
$2 Kids Meal includes:
• Hot dog, macaroni and cheese, or chips; and juice or water
$4 Adult Meals include:
• A drink
• A choice of sandwich
o Barbecue pork
o Italian sausage with peppers
o Hamburger/cheeseburger
• A choice of two sides
o Macaroni and cheese
o Cole slaw
o Baked beans

Special Events and Marketing Manager for the city Niesha Whitman said Copper Sky members get in free.

“We really wanted to recognize people who are already members and give them something fun to do outside of our normal routine,” Whitman said.

Admission for non-members is affordable, Whitman said. Children 17-years-old and under are $2; Adults are $4 at the door.

During the end-of-summer event, a mix of music and swimming will be provided by the city.

“We are going to have a DJ who is going to do some interactive songs like the limbo and the chicken dance,” Whitman said.

While working up an appetite in the pool and on the dancefloor, Helen’s Kitchen will sell kids’ meals for $4 each and adult meals for $8.

Sunday is slated to be a trademark summer day for Maricopa. The National Weather Service forecasts the day of the party to be mostly sunny with a high of 106 degrees. Helen’s Kitchen will also provide a customizable snow cone bar at the event for $2.

“We will have all the different flavors available so the kids will be able to make their own,” Whitman said.

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Photo by Dean Crandall

City officials met with members of the Budget, Finance and Operations subcommittee Monday to discuss mitigating costs associated with Copper Sky Regional Park and Recreation Center.

During the meeting at City Hall, city council and BFO members Nancy Smith, Peggy Chapados and Mayor Christian Price discussed adjusting fees and hours of operation at the Aquatic Center, and possibly bringing in private management to reduce costs at Copper Sky.

Currently, Aquatic Center membership revenue only generates about $125,000, not even a quarter of the roughly $540,000 in annual operating costs.

The city has determined the Aquatic center should alter fee structures and cut hours wherever possible to cover the estimated $415,000 in remaining costs.

The shortfall, said City Manager Gregory Rose, should be no surprise.

“Pools historically just don’t cover themselves,” Rose said.

To help with the shortfall, the city asked the Community Services Department to submit a list of immediate cost-saving reductions they could make to this year’s budget. However, with only $22,250 in suggested “immediate reductions,” the bulk of which was made to personnel hours, the BFO had to find alternative methods for solving the problem.

Price said the city should consider a reasonable increase in membership fees to reconcile expenses associated with the recent minimum wage increases.

“We still have to talk about staying in the market so people come and use the facility, but at the same time, the rates of everyone’s minimum wages are going up,” Price said. “And, we haven’t changed the rates on the facility, or anything therein, in the last three years.”

Price further suggested looking into corporate sponsorship of special events such as the Spring Egg Dive and Movies in The Pool, or start charging a $1 or $2 fee for the events.

Another cut suggested by the Community Service report was to limit the Leisure Pool operations during slower months. Currently it operates from April 18 to Oct. 15. The report suggests changing that to May 15 to Aug. 15 due to fewer school-aged swimmer utilizing the pool during school time.

It was also suggested in the report the Competition Pool, which is open year-round, be closed between Nov. 15 to Jan. 15.

Combined, these reductions could save the city another $100,000, according to the report.

Aside from cuts, a newly-formed sales team will try to drum up revenue by pushing membership sales and corporate outreach.

However, Copper Sky fitness coordinator Matthew Reiter said the industry standard for recreation center membership is about 3 percent of the population in a three-mile proximity.

A previous market penetration analysis was done in the past, Reiter said. He added he did not understand how it was conducted and thus didn’t trust its accuracy enough to cite the numbers.

To fully understand the potential number of memberships, Rose asked Community Services to conduct a Market Analysis.

“As it exists today in our market, how many memberships can we reasonably expect?” Rose hypothetically posited. “How well can you expect this facility to do?”

Rose also made a request for information regarding a third-party operating the Aquatic Center. A subsequent cost comparison, he said, will help them decided how to move on from there.

Officials also discussed lowering the cost of landscaping around Copper Sky Regional Park by contracting with a private company. The city hopes a bidding process for the contract will help them further trim expenses.

All of these items are set to be debated in future BFO meetings, and any subsequent changes to fee structures, operating hours or private contracts at Copper Sky will then be made by City Council.

Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

Maricopa’s 12th annual Great American 4th brought four hours of fun to the fields of Copper Sky on Tuesday, celebrating Independence Day with games, a pool party, water zone, food and live music from Outside the Lines. Vice Mayor Marvin Brown delivered a city address before Maricopa Police Department presented the colors, and an entertaining fireworks show capped off the evening.

Photo by Mason Callejas

The outdoor event series Movies Under the Stars had its big finale with the Dive-In Movie at the Copper Sky Aquatics Center on Saturday. The combined sponsorship of the City of Maricopa and UltraStar Multi-tainment Center created the spring series of films shown outside, with the audience bringing lawn chairs and blankets. The Dive-In audience, however, experienced The LEGO Batman Movie from the pools, making it a memorably wet occasion.

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Photo by Michelle Chance

Children raced through an inflatable obstacle course Wednesday morning during the city of Maricopa’s Summer Fun & Fitness Camps at Copper Sky. Coached by Ricky Muro of Bounce Boot Camp in the East Valley, kids jumped over hurdles, crawled through tunnels and climbed an inflatable wall. Camp aides and “future leader” teen volunteers were also there to assist campers through the course.

The recreational “boot camp” is a weekly feature of the camp’s program at Copper Sky. Youth Coordinator Heather Lozano said she is planning to bring it to other camp locations at Saddleback Elementary and Maricopa Elementary schools in the future.

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Teens have signed up to do some good this summer in Maricopa. Photo by Michelle Chance

Forty teenagers in Maricopa are volunteering to become “future leaders” in the community.

Zachary Schroeder, 13, is one of them. He and his friend, 14-year-old Morgan Godfrey, attended orientation of the Future Leaders Teen Summer Volunteer Program Wednesday at Copper Sky.

However, the experience isn’t entirely new for them.

Both teens volunteered in the city-run program last year and assisted aides in the city’s Summer Fun & Fitness Camps – which cater to young children between 5 and 12 years old.

Schroeder and Godfrey said it was an opportunity to socialize and gain volunteer hours, but most important to them was their time spent with the kids.

Recreation Coordinator Heather Lozano said the teens mean a lot to the campers too.

“It gives them somebody to look up to. It gives them a mentor,” Lozano said.

Before Schroeder was a future leader volunteer, he himself was a camper. His mother, Jennifer, said she has seen her son take on more volunteer and leadership opportunities since his first experience with the program.

She said it also helps prepare young teens for the real world.

“There are not a lot of opportunities for kids this age to be able to get out there to learn what it’s like to work,” Jennifer Schroeder said. “So this gives them a chance to get out there and do a job and see what it’s like to be responsible and become a leader.”

Teens volunteer at four camp locations around the city for six weeks: two at Copper Sky, one at Maricopa Elementary School and another at Saddleback Elementary School.

The camps run Monday through Friday for four hours per day.

Lozano said this is the biggest group of volunteers she has had in the program and added she may have to expand it next year.

Teens who complete the program receive a letter of recommendation from Lozano, which includes the number of hours volunteered.

It’s an opportunity for the teens looking to build their resume, Lozano explained, as well as the possibility of future employment.

“I have actually hired staff from future leaders,” Lozano said.

Camp begins for volunteers and campers June 5.

Photo by Michelle Chance

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Kids 5 to 12 are invited to summer camp, but time to register is running out.

School may be out for the summer, but it some cases, the fun is back at school.

Submitted photo

The City of Maricopa’s Summer Fun & Fitness Camps at Maricopa Elementary and Saddleback Elementary provide children with arts and crafts, games, sports and special events.

Parents can register their kids, ages 5 through 12, until June 5 at 11 p.m.

The six-week camps run Monday through Thursday, 1 to 5 p.m., and is managed by trained camp staff who have passed a background check. “Future leaders” with the city’s teen volunteer program will also be on-hand to assist staff.

Heather Lozano, recreation coordinator at Copper Sky, said the camps are a safe place for kids to build relationships with other children over the summer.

“It’s not only to keep them active, but it teaches them teamwork and cooperation,” Lozano said.

The city offers two additional summer camps at Copper Sky every year. However, those classes are currently at capacity.

For more information contact Heather Lozano at 520-316-4603 or heather.lozano@maricopa-az.gov.

Economic Development Director Denyse Airheart is proud of the teamwork that created the Edison Road extension.

The Edison Road extension is complete.

Edison Pointe is finalizing leases.

Commercial development at Copper Sky may also see some stimulation in 2017.

Estrella Gin Business Park is still waiting for the light to shine.

City of Maricopa Town Hall Meeting

Public Works Director Bill Fay will give an update on the SR347 Overpass, Economic Development Director Denyse Airheart will let you know the latest information on the Edison Pointe development, and the mayor and councilmembers will be there to answer your questions and listen to your concerns.

What: City of Maricopa Town Hall Meeting
When: Tuesday, April 11 at 6 p.m.
Where: City Hall, 39700 W. Civic Center Plaza
Who: All residents are invited.

Pieces are in motion for construction of an overpass to begin this year. Developers are reviving nearly-forgotten subdivision plans. APEX Motor Club and Denny’s have shown plans to build in Maricopa.

Economic development in Maricopa is showing varying signs of progress this year as the city has studied approaches to growing the economic base of the community.

The improving economy has not necessarily created changes to the demographics of Maricopa. Denyse Airheart, the director of the city’s Economic Development Department, does not predict major changes to the methodology when the Economic Development Strategic Plan takes form this year.

“We target companies based off the assets of the community,” Airheart said.

That includes the youth (the average age of Maricopa residents is 33.8 years), income and education level of the population. Those selling points look much as they did three years ago.

A draft of the Economic Development Strategic Plan is scheduled to come before city council in April.

Maricopa may broaden its target sectors, Airheart said. Growth of employment opportunities within Pinal County, especially Casa Grande, may also impact the plan. But Maricopa is still selling itself.

Nailing down a description of Maricopa for prospective companies and creating a narrative of its future is not just a challenge for City Hall. Retail developers have had similar tests.

Edison Pointe

Edison Pointe, at the northeast corner of John Wayne Parkway and Edison Road, is about a year behind leasing a typical development of its size, according to Vintage Partners leasing director Casey Treadwell. He said it has been difficult educating retailers on the attributes of Maricopa.

“I know it’s been frustrating for people wanting to see something going,” he said. At a Maricopa Advocates Program meeting in February, he predicted movement on the ground within a couple of weeks. But a month later, he said Vintage was still putting final leases in place.

Businesses he announced as part of the development are Ross, Burger King, Planet Fitness, Dunkin’ Donuts and Petco.

Mayor Christian Price has called it a game of enticement.

“The city’s doesn’t control economic development,” he said. “We can advocate for it and we can entice for it. We can go out and sell our wares as to why it’s a great place to be, but I can’t make somebody locate here.”

Copper Sky

The City itself knows the irritation of owning commercial property that stands empty for years. It has property at Copper Sky intended for commercial development since the park’s inception. An effort to develop the land may soon be renewed.

“In 2014 we went out to bid, and it just wasn’t the right time, we believe, for the economy,” Airheart said. “We anticipate we would go out sometime in 2017.”

The conceptual plan includes mixed-use commercial, a hotel and a restaurant.

“What we envision there is a destination where people can go and enjoy themselves, where people can go and get an ice cream and sit and enjoy people-watching,” Airheart said. “As you know, we sort of don’t have that sense of place because of how quickly we sprung up.”

Edison Road

The City of Maricopa also owns commercial property at what is planned as the Estrella Gin Business Park. Luring companies to the site has been a struggle, but the six-year effort has produced a new roadway – the Edison Road extension.

Airheart calls the new road one of the proudest achievements of her department.

“All the partners had to work together to make Edison Road a project,” she said.

The road was completed in March and provides another bypass between State Route 238 and John Wayne Parkway. Using a federal grant, the city worked with private landowners and utilities for years to construct the road, which includes sidewalks, curb, gutter and a center median.

Estrella Gin

The road was created to access Estrella Gin, and that project has been a problem. The city contracted with The Boyer Company to market the flex space in the business park. That contract expires in June.

Matt Jensen, a partner in Boyer, said there has been a lot of interest from small companies needing only 1,200 square feet while the city is trying to market to industrial businesses. A couple of proposals have gone out to larger enterprises. There is also an ongoing discussion with the City of Maricopa about moving the fire department administration offices to Estrella Gin.

“That would actually be fantastic,” Jensen said.

Without leases in place, the city will not begin construction, but Airheart said the city is looking at “multiple options” if the contract expires without tenants being signed. She maintains a positive attitude about city-owned commercial property.

“A community that’s investing in itself means that it’s a healthy community. So we’re showing the development community there are investments to be made,” she said.

This story appears in the April issue of InMaricopa.

Photo by Mason Callejas
Photo by Mason Callejas

It was a chilly and damp morning for the free Family Fishing Day and clinic with Game & Fish.

By Michelle Chance

Maricopa families participated in a free fishing event at Copper Sky Regional Park last Saturday, where they could catch and keep up to four fish.

The 13th annual Maricopa Family Fishing Day was Jan. 14 and was a partnership event between the City of Maricopa and the Arizona Game & Fish Department.

The department held a free fishing clinic during the event.

Instructors were on-hand to teach families the basics of fishing: how to bait a hook, cast a line and reel it back in.

Marci Alderman, sport fishing education program coordinator with Game & Fish, said anybody could participate, regardless of skill level.

“It doesn’t matter whether you’ve never fished before or you’re an experienced angler,” Alderman said. “It’s just an opportunity for families to get out and have some fun.”

To prepare, the city stocked the lake at Copper Sky with 1,000 fish prior to the event, said Special Events Coordinator Niesha Whitman.

The lake was stocked with white amur, bluegill, catfish and trout.

Ten-year-old Mireyna Marez and her grandpa Ricardo Franklin participated in the event and caught a few fish.

Marez said she would release a small fish she helped her grandpa catch back into the water, in order to “keep the bigger fish alive.”

Mayor Christian Price (left) and Copper Sky's fitness coordinator Matthew Reiter lived through a test run of this year's Maricopa Mud Run Course. See the video below. Photo by Mason Callejas

The city of Maricopa’s Mike Riggs and Matthew Reiter explain the building of the Mud Run, and Mayor Christian Price sets the pace for Saturday’s big event at Copper Sky. Learn more here.


Maricopans gather in the community room at Copper Sky for Game Night. Photo by Dean Crandall

The Age-Friendly Maricopa Advisory Committee has hosted Game Night the last Friday of each month, creating an opportunity to share fun and conversation with other Maricopans in a relaxed setting over board games and cards. Last week, local photographer Dean Crandall dropped in to see what was cooking.

Jeremy Sellaro (front right in cowboy hat) and his group of helpers show off his Eagle Scout project. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

Maricopa Parks Manager Mike Riggs has about 40 improvement projects in city parks that are necessary or have been requested but have not reached the top of the priority pile yet for his busy staff. He supplies local Boy Scouts leaders with the list for prospective Eagle Scouts to tackle.

Saturday, 17-year-old Jeremy Sellaro brought his helpers to Copper Sky Regional Park’s horseshoe pit for the labor part of his leadership service project. The group laid concrete slabs linking the pit border to the light fixture.

Riggs said benches had been requested at the pits, and the slabs will allow for the future placement of seating. He also said the project will save his staff hours of work each year when mowing around the pit.



Maricopa joined in the Pokemon Go craze with an organized event as Copper Sky staff released 20 lures around the busy park on Saturday. Using it as an opportunity to promote outdoor activity, the parks and rec department also teamed with Maricopa American Legion. Post members served up a pancake breakfast for donations. Musician Laura Walsh sang the National Anthem.

From left, Easton, Zachary and Talyor Schroeder enjoy the American Legion's pancake breakfast during the Pokemon event at Copper Sky. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson
From left, Easton, Zachary and Talyor Schroeder enjoy the American Legion’s pancake breakfast during the Pokemon event at Copper Sky. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson