Authors Articles byHal DeKeyser

Hal DeKeyser

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    Petitions to recall Maricopa City Councilmember Joe Estes face tough scrutiny and a low likelihood of triggering an actual recall election once the names on them are scrubbed for validity.

    Suppporters of the recall have turned in the exact number of names required to hold a recall election – 53 (see related story). Just one name falling off the list will make the petitions inadequate. And that almost always happens.

    “On a recall, we check every signature,” Pinal County Recorder Laure Dean-Lytle told inmaricopa.com.

    Signatures can be striken for many reasons, often because the person signing it wasn’t registered to vote, lived in the wrong jurisdiction or even because someone else signed their names, Dean-Lytle said.

    Because of that, campaigns routinely turn in many more names than are required – and still don’t make the ballot when challenged. Other reasons include problems with the petition-passers such as not signing the sheet correctly and failing to correctly describe the action the petition-passers are seeking to occur.

    On a recall in Oracle Valley, Dean-Lytle noted, petition passers needed about 900 names to force an election and they turned in more than 1,200.

    “People usually do try to do 10 to 20 percent over,” she said.

    Estes said he’s waiting until the recorder does her job before he decides whether to challenge the petitions, and he expects that the standard review of names will end the recall drive.

    “It’s automatically determined by the county recorder,” Estes said. “I don’t have to do anything with that.”

    Should all the names be verified, though, the petitions can still be challenged as petitions failed to include the statement required by statute describing the reason for the recall, he said. Estes would challenge the petitions based on that, but he would rather have them rejected because of an insufficient number of valid signatures.

    “One way or another,” he said, “it will wind up getting kicked.”

    Estes added, “That they only got 53 signatures in four months, I think speaks volumes.”

    Photo by RuthAnn Hogue

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      A new concept in neighborhood markets is coming to Arizona, and while Maricopa is not in the first round of openings, it is on the list.

      The site for the Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market, which will open four stores in Arizona early next month, is on the northwest corner of John Wayne Parkway and Hathaway Avenue.

      The opening date was originally scheduled for February 2008, but construction delays and other factors have postponed it, according to Nick Guttilla, an attorney representing Fresh & Easy in its request for a liquor license at Tuesday’s city council meeting. “I have no idea,” he responded to Councilman Will Dunn’s question of the when the store will open. “I can’t tell you when this one will open.”

      Fresh & Easy builds stores about 10,000 square feet, smaller than conventional supermarkets, with the idea that shopping there would be faster and easier. It also stresses the freshness of its food offering, including a private label with foods that have no added transfats, artificial colors or flavors and preservatives “only when absolutely necessary,” according to a company press release. Deliveries also are made daily.

      Each store employs about 20 to 30 people for 20 hours a week or more, and it looks to hire from the local neighborhood. The company says entry level positions start at $9 per hour in Arizona and offer up to a 10 percent bonus.

      The first four Arizona stores open Dec. 5 in the East Valley – three in Mesa and one in Chandler.

      “We are thrilled to bring our neighbors in Arizona fresh, wholesome food at affordable prices,” Tim Mason, Fresh & Easy CEO, said in a statement. “Our stores in Southern California and Las Vegas have been very well received, and we look forward to serving our new neighbors here in Arizona.”

      Fresh & Easy is owned by Tesco, the biggest retailer in the United Kingdom and the third largest in the world. It has more than 3,200 stories in a dozen countries and has more than 400,000 employees worldwide.

      The company has announced locations for 122 U.S. stores, with 50 of them in Southern California, Las Vegas and the Phoenix area to open by the end of February. It says it will invest $2 billion over the next five years and have 200 stores by the end of 2008.

      The company also promises to build green buildings, LEED-certified by the U.S. Green Building Council. LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. The company says it will recycle or reuse all of its display and shipping materials and use environmentally friendly trailers to ship food. Its distribution center in Riverside, Calif. is that state’s biggest solar roof installation.

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      The party conversation has flipped in the past two years. In 2005, all the talk was bragging how much money the housing appreciation had delivered. Now, it’s when is the home market going to turn around, and how does anyone sell a house in this environment?

      What happened to the Central Arizona real estate market?

      The short answer is that it shot way up and has floated back down some and has yet to reach whatever its new plateau might be. Here’s the brief version of that two-year history:

      • During the housing price run-up of 2004-2005, the median price of a Valley home went up a nation-leading 47 percent. During the same time, Phoenix led the nation in job creation and population growth (and remains in the top three in those areas).

      • That leap (some call it a catch-up) drew investors from California and elsewhere where such volatility is more common and prices were higher. They bought single family houses as speculative investments, assuming (correctly, during that era) that the increased value of the house would more than cover the cost of holding it. Some estimates put the percentage of speculative buyers as high as 25%.

      • Meanwhile, builders couldn’t keep up with demand, went on a building binge and continually raised prices. There were lotteries and lines to buy.

      • Also, the lowest mortgage rates in memory combined with the loosest lending practices also in memory allowed many people who previously could not qualify to get into houses. Many first-time, move-up and speculative buyers got homes with little or no down with adjustable rates and insufficient resources to handle the higher cost of borrowing that was right around the corner. Some did so right at the peak value of the market, meaning they owe more than their homes are worth, not even counting the cost of selling them. In “drive till you qualify” exburbs like Maricopa, legions who couldn’t afford housing in the metro core found exploding developments that they could get into. They came in droves. And builders kept building.

      • After about a year and a half of this, prices leveled off, causing many investors to put their houses up for sale, creating a supply glut. Add to that the buyers who were in danger of losing their houses because they couldn’t afford the payments – and now the repossessed or soon-to-be-repossessed home that lending institutions have wound up owning.

      So we have more houses for sale than ever before at higher prices and fewer buyers facing climbing mortgage rates, more scrutiny from lenders and fears that the bottom has yet to be hit, meaning they could pay more than a house might be worth months down the road. Could you have a more perfect storm?

      You may look wistfully at those linear markets in the Rust Belt where housing appreciated slightly but consistently and continues to do so. However, if you bought your real estate during or before the ’04-’05 run-up, you still are probably in better shape than if the appreciation spike that preceded this slowdown didn’t occur. If you bought at the peak, hope you don’t have to go anywhere for a while.

      In the face of all that, what’s someone who wants to – or worse, has to – sell a home to do?

      The obvious answer is to make the deal more attractive. The two basic ways to do that are to give more or take less.

      The simplest, albeit not the most comfortable, strategy is to lower the price. Those who bought before the run-up might be in a better position to do so than someone who laid down every nickel at the peak. One local Realtor advises sellers to price in the bottom half of the Competitive Market Analyhsis (CMA) report and to drop the price every three weeks until it sells. Also, price it below key numbers, meaning that you’ll get more traffic at $299,900 than at $302,500.

      Offering incentives such as help with closing costs or rate buy-downs also might increase traffic of eligible or interested buyers. Sellers have offered home warranties, fix-up allowances, commission incentives to agents and the like. One seller even offered to leave the Mercedes in the garage. That might not net more cash in the seller’s pocket, but it keeps the official values of homes high. (Some argue that’s not a good thing because it extends the high price expectations of homeowners, who are not that far removed from that brief but brisk value run-up. That means it will take longer for lowered prices to reduce the saturated inventory of homes, which is what puts the buyers in control.)

      Of course, if you have the big corner lot or a to-die-for view or the greatest back yard ever devised, then you have a “give” that the tract home down the block can’t offer. Maybe you can sell sooner or for more, although you still have to get interested buyers to look at your property.

      Some owners who can afford to wait have opted to rent out their houses and wait out the market conditions. That is tougher to do in long-drive markets like Maricopa, particularly when others are in the same circumstance.

      Housing appreciation has chugged along at 4 to 7 percent a year in normal times. The last time values in the Valley stalled was when the Resolution Trust Corp held a fire sale on properties inherited from the savings and loan collapse in the late 1980s. It took a few years, but once the inventory was absorbed, appreciation rates returned to historical levels. Real estate in Arizona has always risen, even if it took some waiting, like today.

      So there you have it. The facts of life in today’s Arizona market means that sellers have to acknowledge that today’s real estate market as a glut of homes and a paucity of buyers, and they have to make realistic decisions about how to manage that.

      The good news is that if you bought your house before the peak of the run-up you benefitted from that gain. The bad news is that, if you have to sell right now, you’re undoubtedly going to have to give at least some of it back.

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      Are you interested in writing a column for Maricopa’s local news provider? inmaricopa.com now has an Opinion section, and we encourage the people who live and work in the city to voice their perspectives on issues and events here.

      While thousands of people have used the Forum to express their point of view (and some neighborly – and occasionally not-so-neighborly – chat), the Opinion section offers an opportunity for longer form, issue-oriented arguments. Unlike the Forum, columns in the Opinion section will have bylines identifying the author. It’s healthy for a community to hear a wide range of opinons on the subjects that affect the city and the people in it. Neither jounalists nor local officials own all the knowledge and insight on issues, and this is your chance to add something that might otherwise not be aired.

      Remember that inmaricopa.com is all Maricopa and only Maricopa. If your chosen subject directly affects Maricopa, we are much more likely to run it. You may have the world’s most erudite missive on George Bush or global warming, but our mission is Maricopa. We want to hear what you think about roads, schools, city leadership, Maricopa growth than national or international issues. Think home town. That’s what inmaricopa.com is all about.

      That said, here are a few tips to penning effective columns that will make them more likely to be run and more likely to sway opinion.

      First of all, have a clear opinion. A column is not just a new story, a series of facts, even when the dots are connected. An opinion should speak to issues and say “this is what should happen” or something of that nature that could spawn a headline. An opinion, by the way, is not something like I, or my office, is doing a great job.

      Secondly, have evidence. Don’t just tell me it’s good or bad or fouled up, tell me why you believe that, and use examples, and more than anecdotes and rumors and what other people say. Don’t overwhelm the reader with statistics, but give them a base upon which you build your argument.

      Make your argument or point of view clear. The old saw among editorial writers is: “Tell ’em what you’re going to tell ’em; tell ’em; and then tell ’em what you told ’em.” Don’t make me guess where you line up on your chosen subject.

      This should go without saying, but don’t libel people, call them names or otherwise burn them. You can’t call people liars, thieves or miscreants because it’s not fair and you could get sued.

      It helps to explain the viewpoint opposite of yours. Feel free to demonstrate why you think that argument is flawed. It helps balance.

      There are three audiences for opinion: Those who agree, those who disagree and those who haven’t made up their mind. The first two are the easiest to crank up, but they’re the hardest to reach. The undecided may be the smallest audience, but it’s the one where your column can have the greatest effect. It’s most effective writing to this audience.

      Columns generally should be between 500 and 750 words. They should be accompanied by a very brief description of the writer and his/her background that applies to the argument – even if it’s just that the person is a Maricopa resident. (Editorials, on the other hand, generally are unsigned.) Columns also should have a mug of the writer. On our site, we also can run other photos, if they apply, and graphs, charts, maps or whatever that help illustrate the point(s). If something visual helps make your argument, include it.

      Email your submission to news@inmaricopa.com. If you want to run an idea by us first, feel free to send it to the same email address.

      So let’s hear from you, Maricopa.

      Hal DeKeyser has been an editor and publisher in the Valley for more than 25 years and has written columns for the East Valley Tribune, The Arizona Republic and other publications. He is currently an editorial adviser to inmaricopa.com and 85239 The Magazine.

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        After fits and starts over several years, north of $100,000 spent on land options and consultants, and multiple conflicts of interests among City Council members, Maricopa is back to square one in trying to get a city hall.

        The city has formed an as-yet unnamed group of residents who will be working to figure out what should go in the city’s core. They are not specifically charged with determining and siting a city hall, but they will be working on what Maricopa’s future downtown will look like and feature, which could include city facilities.

        It has been a long and unfruitful road back to the beginning.

        It was 2003 and Maricopa had just become Arizona’s newest municipality when the subject of a city hall first surfaced when the developer of Rancho El Dorado offered to donate 20 acres for a municipal complex.

        Since then, all the time, money and labor has netted no land, unfulfilled studies and no city hall complex (click here for timeline). Meanwhile, city government operates out of used manufactured offices on land owned by Mayor Kelly Anderson’s family, with rental cost automatically escalating 10 percent a year.

        After all those years, money and effort, the city of Maricopa is no closer now to having a city hall than it was when it was incorporated. When pressed on what specific marching orders the Council has given staff regarding acquiring a city hall, Management Assistant Danielle Casey said, “I think the city has been so busy getting a police department and fire department. That’s what we’ve been told to focus on.”

        Vice Mayor Brent Murphree agrees: “I don’t know that there has been definitive marching orders from the Council because there are so many people who have ties to this process.”

        He was referring to the fact that a majority of the City Council has had some significant conflicts of interest involving Maricopa, its city hall and/or its quest to get one, such as:

        • Councilman Stephen Baker was the real estate agent for Dennis Peed, whose 150-acre property the city offered to buy for $14.6 million or $97,000 per acre. Baker recused himself from voting on the purchase, although he didn’t explain publicly in advance why. Under a traditional commission structure, he stood to gain more than $400,000 if the deal had gone through.

        • Councilman Edward Farrell is in business outside of Maricopa with Mike Ingram, a principal of El Dorado Holdings, which donated 20 acres to the city for a city hall and later sought to sell 100 acres for $6.5 million or $65,000 per acre for a city hall.

        • Mayor Kelly Anderson family owns the land on which the interim city hall rests. The lease calls for a 10% annual rent increase. Anderson has recused himself from voting on that lease and on another property with a family interest.

        • Councilman Joe Estes, an attorney, has cited a possible conflict because a client he represented may have an interest in the issue, and he now is in-house attorney for a land company.

        • Councilman Will Dunn had a conflict because his grandfather owned part of a parcel being considered for a city hall site.

        “I think that’s been the biggest impediment,” Murphree said. “I think it’s been huge.
        That’s one of the reasons why we’re pulling this commmitte together with a group of people who don’t have that special interests.”

        Councilman Joe Estes doesn’t think it has been the conflicts holding up the show.

        “I don’t think that’s been an impediment,” Estes said. “The impediment has been there has been so much second guessing as to choosing a final site because it’s going to have a lasting impact on the city.”

        Maricopa, Estes said, is a small town, and all the councilmembers work and have businesses in Maricopa, so conflicts of interest naturally will happen.

        “There’s no problem with having a conflict,” he said. “There’s a problem with not disclosing a conflict.”

        Last week, without fanfare or public announcement, the city gathered a task force of citizens from diverse backgrounds and developments to gauge the public’s sentiment on what is wanted in the city’s commercial core along John Wayne Parkway, Casey said. That is needed before the city hall question is answered, she said, so the city can locate services there if that’s what the citizenry wants. If it builds a city hall complex away from the downtown area or the commercial core fills up with stores, there might not be an opportunity to site services where residents say they want them.

        It should take a few months “to get good answers and ideas, but the process is important. We’re not looking at two years or anything,” Casey said, adding, “We’re not going to rush the process. We want to make sure it’s done right.”

        She did note that the task force has not been asked to do anything regarding a city hall for Maricopa.

        “What we hear from this task force will guide what needs to go downtown,” Casey said. “Before we were putting the chicken before the egg.”

        “Honestly, they just never got to a point where any of the sites were what the City Council wanted, so nothing happened,” she said.

        If Maricopa had it to do over, Murphree said, he would “make sure we looked at all the special interest ties we had on the Council to this selection process. We made a mistake assuming that people would declare their interests and their conflicts and step down, but that hasn’t happened.”

        What Maricopa needs to do now, Murphree said, is tighten up the process, let the citizens committee work and have the Council do its job.

        “People know that we need a new library, recreation facility,” Murphree said, “and we need the Council to buy into their community, establish a place we can go that isn’t a trailer on a vacant lot, a place the community understands that this is their home, a tangible asset in their community that says we’ll be here for another 50 or 100 years.”

        What Estes would have done differently is have the Council do more deciding and less second-guessing.

        “I would have taken a stand and said we need to make a decision, do it, move forward with it and get it done,” Estes said. “That’s what we were elected to do, make decisions.”

        While Estes noted that he thinks most of the Council prefers a downtown location, he thinks that area will be much better used for commercial and cultural uses, and too much space taken for city services reduces that.

        “City hall doesn’t have to be in a prime location, and I see downtown as a prime location,” he said. That said, he added, it also doesn’t need to be a huge, single complex. Some services need to be at the same place, such as having one stop for permit approval, he said, but others are better off dispersed, such as police, fire, parks and libraries.

        “Originally the discussion was having a minimum of 60 acres so we could consolidate services,” Estes said. “But I think after having looked at (consultants’) reports, there are things we can decentralize and go with a smaller footprint for a city hall site and still have all these needs served.”

        Estes said he expects that the Council will appoint a citizens task force – each council member appointing one person – that will review the information and make a recommendation. He doesn’t see that as being the same group as the downtown task force that just got together.

        He also believes that it is the Council that needs to spearhead the drive. The Council, he said, is looking at once again scheduling retreats starting next month and including what to do about city hall within them.

        “It’s going to take us as a Council sitting down discussing what as a Council we want and moving forward with it,” Estes said.

        Murphree and Estes have high goals for Maricopa’s eventual site.

        “One of the big goals it to make it an area where people will want to come to for work, for dinner, for entertainment,” Murphree said of a city hall in or near the commercial district. “We want it to be fully used, to benefit the community in a real way.”

        Said Estes: “We need a city hall site. We need to show everyone else that the city’s invested in itself and we have an identity. We don’t have an identity without a city hall.”

        Mayor Kelly Anderson and Assistant City Manager Rick Buss did not return calls seeking comment on this issue.

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          The Maricopa City Council moved so quickly on the city manager’s request to become an assistant city manager and to appoint a new interim manager because city code requires that Maricopa have a city manager, three councilmen said today.

          At a 7:30 a.m. meeting on Monday, July 2 – a meeting that was posted late the previous Friday afternoon – council members unanimously appointed former intermim City Manager Rick Buss as assistant and chose Finance Director Roger Kolman as the new interim City Manager. There was no printed background material before or since the meeting. At the meeting, Council members did not discuss their decision with each other or the public, including why such a move was necessary or why it had to be done so quickly.

          Council members Joe Estes, Kelly Haddad and Will Dunn said that when Buss originally was appointed interim city manager, he had an agreement that he could step back into the assistant’s role. When Buss said he wanted to exercise that option to spend more time with his family and do it immediately, the Council was required by the original employment deal to honor his request. And it was required by city code to have a designated city manager, they said, and that is why a new interim manager was appointed immediately.

          None of the Council members knew what the consequence would be if Maricopa had no city manager. Estes speculated that the city could face state sanctions.

          “The reason it was so fast was because Rick (Buss) asked to move to the assistant city manager position effective immediately,” Haddad said. “We have to keep the ship moving. We can’t stop for anything. It’s a business that needs to continue to run.”

          Dunn also said that the letter from Buss and the original employment deal required the fast decision.

          “Quite literally, he (Buss) didn’t want to do it anymore,” Dunn said. “What are you going to tell the guy? ‘Sorry.'”

          Dunn added, “Rick wanted us to move fast. That’s only fair to him and his family, and we have complete confidence in Roger.”

          All three council members understood that the employment deal with Buss allowed him to unilaterally and precipitiously exercise his option to drop to the assistant role, something Haddad said he would not approve in the future. (Estes was not on the Council when Buss was hired.)

          “We’re not perfect,” Haddad said. “We’re still new as a council and we’re learning. We’ve made mistakes and we’ll press forward.”

          The Council members said that the city will do a proper and comprehensive job recruiting a permanent city manager and that Kolman’s appointment is temporary. They also said that Kolman was the natural pick for interim city manager because, as finance director, he already had an intimate knowledge of all city departments and he did not want to be a candidate for the job.

          “I saw it as a good fit for Roger without looking at anyone else because of his position with the city,” Estes said. “I see (Finance Director) as the No. 2 position in the city. He knows the ins and outs of every department; he works with them on budget.”

          Dunn said that the “team approach” to running the city will mean a smooth transition to the new city manager. Kolman, Dunn said, was the most rounded department head who had the confidence of the Council. But, he added, “We could have put any of our directors in there, and they all would have done a fantastic job.”

          At the special meeting, there was no background information prepared explaining why the action was required, as normally is available. None of the council members nor Mayor Kelly Anderson explained the background or why they voted as they did – also unusual in key city decisions.

          In retrospect, all said the city could have done a better job explaining the council action to citizens.

          “We’d probably do it differently if we had to do it again,” Dunn said. “We’re certainly not trying to hide anything.”

          Haddad said the city will not continue to make big decisions so quickly.

          “We have done numerous things in the past way too fast, and I think we all know it. For myself, I just think in the future you’re not going to see that happen anymore,” Haddad said. “As a council, we have to make sure we’re not doing things too quickly. This was done quickly but it was the right decision.”

          Estes also said that Maricopa needs a city manager with more experience than Buss, whose resume on the city’s Web site does not include working for a city.

          “I thought Rick was overwhelmed with the position,” Estes said. “He didn’t have the needed experience with how fast the city was growing. We need someone with experience in that position.”

          An upside of the development, Estes said, is that Buss now will have the chance to work on more detailed issues that haven’t received sufficient attention.

          “One area that Rick has a lot of knowledge on was Santa Cruz Wash,” he said. “We’re still working on a regional flood control solution for Santa Cruz Wash. I see that as a benefit for the city for Rick being there as assistant city manager, to focus his time and attention on those detail areas that we need to get something done on rather than big picture things.”

          The Maricopa City Council is scheduled to meet again at 5 p.m. today at to make Kolman’s appointment immediate. The language appointing him interim city manager failed to declare the action as an emergency, which means he would not officially have the position for 30 days.

          That meeting will be at City Hall, 45145 W. Madison Ave.

          Editor’s note: Mayor Kelly Anderson, Vice-Mayor Brent Murphree and Council members Edward Farrell and Stephen Baker did not respond to inmaricopa.com’s request for comment prior to publication.

          Photo by Aaron Thacker

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          The Global Water Resources Center, Pinal County’s first officially green utility building was dedicated today by Gov. Janet Napolitano, who congratulated Maricopa and the company for “growing in a good way, a smart way and an innovative way.”

          The building, at 22590 N. Powers Parkway in Maricopa, earned its environmental designation from the U.S. Green Building Council for its use of recycled materials, energy efficiency and notably for its water recycling system (see previous story). The center uses recycled water to flush toilets and water the landscaping.

          Napolitano flew into Maricopa by helicopter for the building’s dedication, which also included welcomes from Maricopa Mayor Kelly Anderson, Ak-Chin Community Chairperson Delia Carlyle and Global Water CEO Trevor Hill.

          “At Global Water, we’ve embraced the certainty of future water scarcity in the communities that we serve and have implemented one of the largest total water management plans in the nation,” Hill told the several hundred dignitaries and visitors at the dedication. “In partnership with the city of Maricopa, the city of Casa Grande and the Ak-Chin Community, we have laid out a plan for 300 square miles of land – enough for 500,000 future homes, as many as 1.25 million people. In that plan, we agreed to make water conservation our No. 1 priority.”

          Hill noted that because of partnerships and recycling, the Maricopa area uses about 60 percent of the water per capita as the rest of Arizona. The center, he noted, uses 83 percent less water than a conventionally plumbed building of that size.

          The governor noted that fast-growing Arizona has other environmental issues, including air quality, greenhouse gas emissions and transportation. She noted that Arizona is part of a 30-state cooperative to measure greenhouse gas emissions, and dealing collectively with that reduces the cost of measuring and reducing those emissions.

          Dealing with climate change and water use go together, Napolitano said, and so does transportation.

          “We have to have a culture of conservation, particularly as water is concerned,” she said.

          The dedication also included a Native American blessing and dance thanks to Ak-Chin. Mayor Anderson called the building “another first for our city” and referred to Global Water as an “important stakeholder for our planning process.”

          Maricopa will begin to hold its City Council meetings at the Global building, he said, and he noted the partnership with schools, which will bring students in to learn about water and conservation at the many displays and video presentations at the center. Anderson thanked Global for its “vision, commitment and dedication to the city of Maricopa.”

          Carlyle said that while her community early on had a problem with the system, it was only an initial plan for discharging water that has since changed. She pointed out a display in the lobby highlighting the Ak-Chin Community.

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          Maricopa soon will be home to Pinal County’s only nationally certified green utility building when Gov. Janet Napolitano comes to town May 18 to help dedicate the new Global Water Center.

          The center, at 22590 North Powers Parkway, will be the first LEED certified building in its class in the county. LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.

          “We built it to the gold standard,” said Global Water Resources spokesman Paul Walker.

          The designation is awarded by the U.S. Green Building Council to buildings that incorporate energy efficient and environmentally sound features. Points are given for such things as using recycled materials, buying materials nearby (thereby reducing trucking pollution), energy efficiency and using resources efficiently. Gold is the next-to-the-highest standard.

          Befitting its industry and mission, the Global Water building recycles water through two pressurized lines. One is the standard line that brings treated water into the building for general use. The other uses recycled water to flush toilets in the building and water the outside landscaping. That should save an estimated 30 percent of the water a similar building might use, according to Global Water.

          Global Water also got points for using common household products such as foam trays and aluminum cans in its roofing, insulation, counters and exterior walls.

          The company needed the center to house customer service staff for its growing population in western Pinal County, plus a place for engineering and construction staff. Walker said the best way to show the public that water recycling make sense is to demonstrate it in its own building.

          That’s also why part of the center is dedicated to public education, with exhibits and displays about water history, planning and sustainability.

          Recycling water is important because Arizona’s growth curve is going to require more water to handle expected population and to live a comfortable lifestyle. Walker quotes SRP General Manager Dick Silverman: “You should only use water once if you believe you should only use a dollar bill once.”

          At Global Water, Walker said, reclaimed water is treated with biological processes, then ultraviolet light, then some chlorine before it is reused for irrigation and “probable human contact” uses, such as watering a golf course. It’s an investment – which means it isn’t free.

          The argument is that it makes the most sense to build a system to use recycled water for secondary uses, keeping more of the best water for human consumption.

          The cheapest way to run a water company is to pump groundwater, treat it for human consumption and deliver it, then take the effluent and treat it to minimum government-required standards and dump it in a wash.

          “You can’t keep looking out for just what’s the cheapest way but what’s the most sustainable way,” Walker said.

          The center’s architect was Deutsch and Associates of Phoenix, and the contractor was Adolfson & Peterson, Inc. of Tempe.

          Illustration courtesy of Global Water

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          His real name is Bill, but to these scores of friends he goes by Chuck, although most never had laid eyes on him before Saturday night. He resides in Casa Grande, where he moved from Flagstaff, but in his fantasy world he still lives in Maricopa, which he left to move to Flagstaff.
          Confused? Perhaps not if you’re a regular Forum poster.

          Bill’s (or Chuck’s) “world” is the inmaricopa.com Forum, where locals – and evidently former locals – talk back and forth daily, sharing the news of the day and their many and varied – and sometimes zany and funny – opinions on it.

          More than 75 Forum posters got to see the real faces behind the inmaricopa.com avatars on Saturday night at The Duke. This was the third, and largest, Forum gathering in the past two years.

          True to the medium, the party was dreamt up and organized by poster “Miss Kerry”, with a little help from her friends. The event was similar to other unintended but delightful results of the Forum, which is organically developing connections among people of similar interests in Maricopa.

          Forum participant Sinbad, for example, hosts Forum participant Risk and poker parties. We’ve also seen affinity groups ranging from Bible study to Harley riders to lady partiers to pick-up basketball form through the Forum.

          Besides Bill (or Chuck), who can’t seem to leave the Maricopa nest, the event attracted a young couple who had been in town but two short weeks but who already had e-connected with others in the city. In a community as new and growing as Maricopa, it has become the prime way for new neighbors to meet and to relate.

          Presented here are a few comments from and photos of your Maricopa neighbors, both actual and virtual, having fun and getting to know each other and their town. Feel free to join the group and the fun by signing on to the inmaricopa.com Forum.

          THANK YOU!!! Miss Kerry for organizing this. I met new people who I know are now going to be called friends!!! – JustJodi

          Sure was awesome meeting all the new people and seeing all the old faces again. Looking forward to the next gathering. -twostep23

          It was so wonderful to hang out with old friends and meet some new ones too!! Forum members that I had been talking to for a LONG TIME I finally got to meet – which was so nice!!

          Thanks to The Duke for providing us with a lovely place to have this gathering – the grounds are looking absolutely beautiful!! Food was good too.

          Everyone needs to keep in touch now – don’t be strangers!! – Miss Kerry

          Photos by Scott Bartle

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          Christian Dinsmore and Peggy Degler tied for first place in the inaugural Maricopa Madness pool, and they both managed to do so without even picking Florida over Ohio State in the championship game.

          The contest was sponsored by Orbitel Communications, Maricopa’s Native New Yorker restaurant and inmaricopa.com.

          Dinsmore, who says he is “competitive by nature,” won the tie-breaker and a year’s worth of free digital telephone service from Orbitel Communications and a Suns Night Out that included dinner and drinks at Native New Yorker before being ferried to and from U.S. Airways Center by Maricopa`s 5th Avenue Limousine & Sedan Service.

          “I am not really a huge NCAA fan, but having a stake in the tournament makes the games more fun to watch,” Dinsmore said. “I would like to think there was a lot of skill involved with making my picks, but the truth is that it was probably more luck than skill.”

          Second place got $250 to spend on Native New Yorker wings and other food and a year of Orbitel HD and DVR service.

          “I was really excited to be able to join a community contest such as this and even had my husband, mother and some neighbors join also,” said Degler, “The contest program was easy to follow and made for watching March Madness that much more fun.”

          She said her son, who goes to ASU, and her husband have sports on 24/7, “so I knew a little bit about the teams playing.”

          Last place “winner” Kecia Pike, who entered “for the fun of it,” received inmaricopa.com apparel.

          “Mainly I went with my gut feeling – and although I don’t watch college basketball, I am aware of the teams and usually how well they do from hearing things over the years.”

          Photo by Aaron Thacker

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          As many as 50 local non-profit organizations in Maricopa will gather Saturday at Rotary Park to tell residents what they do, to raise money for those good causes and to create a little fun.

          Maricopa Community Support Day will feature a rock wall, bouncers, a dunk tank, games, crafts and food, according to organizer Deborah Knoroski.

          The Maricopa-based groups also will have information available on what services and support they offer area residents, with fun games at the booths. All money raised at the event will go to the non-profits and churches there.

          The event will be from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Rotary Park, Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway, next to the library. For more information, contact Knoroski at (520) 494-2994.

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          The MOMS Club of Maricopa – Wells is planning its second annual garage sale April 20-21 to raise money for Maricopa Friends of the Library, New Life Pregnancy Center and Arizona Outreach.

          In their inaugural effort last year, the MOMS Clubs garnered $500 for those organizations, which were chosen because they are local and they help children and families, which is a MOMS Club goal, according to Kayci Amos, an organizer.

          The group is collecting donated items for the sale. Last year, the sale offered children’s items and clothes plus furniture and sports equipment, Amos said. So far donors have provided baby items and clothing and a wine rack, among other things, and more donations are being sought.

          The club is looking for donations of:

          • Baby and children’s clothing, furniture and toys
          • Electronics (especially in original boxes w/instructions)
          • Books (adult and children)
          • CDs
          • DVDs
          • Small furniture
          • Maternity clothing
          • Seasonally appropriate adult clothing (summer)

          MOMS Club Maricopa – Wells is a chapter of MOMS Club International. MOMS Club International was founded in 1983 and has more than 2,000 chapters and 100,000 members worldwide. MOMS Club Maricopa – Wells was founded in 2006 and has more than 45 members. Three MOMS Club chapters in Maricopa have more than 150 members combined.

          If you go:
          Times and dates:
          3-7 p.m. April 20 for members of any MOMS Club in Maricopa. For the general public, 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. April 21.
          Where: 46123 W. Guilder Ave. and 46108 W. Guilder Ave. in the Meadows. Enter on Honeycutt, left at roundabout, third right (Christopher) and follow the signs.

          To donate or for more information about MOMS Club, Kayci Amos at (520) 208-2068 or kayciamos@yahoo.com.

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            Maricopa’s City Council approved the first two phases of the city’s biggest retail center in history at a specially called meeting Monday night.

            The approval allows construction to begin on what all reports indicate will be a Wal-Mart. Vice Mayor Brent Murphree said the Shea development also will include a major home improvement and electronics stores.

            The 500,000 square foot retail center will be at Porter Road and the Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway. It will include free-standing restaurants, smaller retail stores, day care and other stores. A pedestrian trail will run along the front, as well as an equestrian trail. Parking will be in front of the stores. Landscaping will be drought-tolerant desert.

            The major retailer, which would use about 100,000 square feet, likely will be Wal-Mart. That was discussed at a previous city meeting (see related story), and the Council on Monday asked about a stipulation on overnight parking. Wal-Mart stores nationwide generally allow RVs to park in their lots overnight. Murphree said he was “not at liberty to say” what the stores would be.

            The buildings will have a Southwestern look with earthtones, stucco, stone and metal. At one point, Council members huddled over a map to see where a chain link fence would be.

            Having that much new retail would “keep people in town” as well as their sales tax dollars, which now go to Ahwatukee, Chandler and Phoenix-area cities, said Vice Mayor Murphree, who presided over the meeting because Mayor Kelly Anderson was ill.

            Murphree also said it was exciting that the project also contains multi-family housing, which could provide housing for some of the people who would work at the center.

            The unanimous vote to approve the project came at a special City Council meeting called to approve an unrelated 313-acre annexation. Asked why the Shea development needed to be done in a special meeting, Murphree said the company was anxious to get started and simply was added to the agenda for the annexation decision.

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              In two specially called back-to-back meetings, the Maricopa Planning & Zoning Commission and City Council Monday annexed 313 acres of county industrially zoned land that includes the shuttered Waste Management landfill.

              The move will give Maricopa about five square miles of employment-producing property, something necessary to creating jobs for local residents and allowing the city to become more than a bedroom community, according to Planning Director Amy Haberbosch.

              Zoning and uses of the land will not change, which means the landfill could reopen when demand stipulates. Doug Jordan, an attorney representing Waste Management, which also operates the Butterfield Station in Mobile 8 miles away, did not say if and when that might occur. He did not know the remaining capacity. The property once known as Browning Ferris Industries of Pinal County, after multiple ownership and naming changes, now goes under the moniker of Sierra Estrella Landfill.

              The annexation process began about 2 ½ years ago over concerns about higher density residential zoning requests to the county in the area that did not comply with Maricopa’s master plan, Haberbosch said. Initially, the area being considered for annexation included many large-lot rural properties, but the city received scores of protests from residents who did not want to be in the city – at least that soon. Eventually, those areas were removed from the annexation.

              The city also gave assurances to an area farmer that it would be allowed to continue operating as it historically has.

              Industrially zoned land is necessary for cities to have a place set aside for economic development. New and rapidly growing Arizona cities historically have seen home builders develop first, followed by retail and finally industrial uses. If early uses eat up available land for job-producing industries to set up, a higher percentage of residents have to drive elsewhere to jobs. That tends to lessen community connection, reduces the potential property tax base, contributes to rush hour traffic jams and makes for less than complete communities.

              “We have to be self-sustaining,” she said after the planning meeting. “We have to have employment.”

              Jordan of Waste Management told P&Z commissioners that it would be decades before anyone knows what use the landfill might serve. Because it takes years of settling, no structures could be built on top of it. Federal regulation also restricts introducing water, which further limits use. But there is a golf course on a closed and covered landfill in Phoenix, so there are opportunities for popular uses after the landfill is closed, covered and settled.

              Property around the landfill is buildable, Jordan said, and Waste Management is comfortable with fulfilling previous agreements, including those that called for sport fields around the site.

              Delia Carlyle, chairwoman of the Ak-Chin Indian Community, said her government first learned of the annexation vote Monday morning, and it has issues involving the area that have not been resolved. The meeting notice came Friday, but tribal offices were closed.

              “This is the first time we’ve heard of this,” she said.

              Vice Mayor Brent Murphree assured Carlyle that the annexation did not speak to any specific development, and that Maricopa’s annexation merely cut the number of jurisdictions with influence over the development from three to two – cutting out the county.

              Councilman Edward Farrell asked Haberbosch if the Ak-Chin Community was notified, and she said every land owner within 300 feet was contacted, and there was a sign posted on the site.

              “They were on the list,” she said.

              Three of the sections border the Community, she said, and there have been incidents of cut fences, trespassing and ATV damage to the area designed not only for preservation but also for burial sites.

              Both Murphree and Carlyle said the two jurisdictions should meet to talk about legal and other issues in such areas of mutual interests.

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              Maricopa residents upset about recent graffiti tagging in the city are talking about creating a citizens task force to combat it.

              While the city has yet to take any formal action, the head of the park system that was vandalized by taggers this week thinks it might be a good idea. Marty McDonald, Director of Parks, Recreation and Libraries, said residents clearly are upset about graffiti and vandalism, and the city might want to help create the task force to help reduce it.

              McDonald said the idea first needs to run through the city’s Public Safety Committee and the City Council.

              “The need for a task force is there, but at the same time our already-limited resources are stretched thin,” McDonald said. “Any task force created will need to have significant community involvement. We are working on the long-overdue Park Ambassador program, and the most recent incident at Pacana Park (see related story) has caused us to pause and research how we can utilize Park Ambassadors to combat the graffiti problem.

              “There is a great effort under way by Pinal Energy, First Impressions Ink and Ramsey’s American Grill to create an awareness campaign about keeping Maricopa beautiful (see related story). A partnership with them needs to be explored as well. There are a lot of entities that can be involved in this wonderful endeavor.”

              The push for a Maricopa citizens graffiti-fighting group sprung up on the inmaricopa.com Forum right after a report about graffiti showing up at Pacana Park.

              The initial call came from a poster whose screen name is Mallard, who said:

              We have all seen it. We all want to stop it. Graffiti and tagging means gangs and kids getting into trouble. What can we do about it as a neighborhood? I want to ask you, as a community, if you want to make a difference. Here is what I propose: Volunteer for Maricopa graffiti Task force on this thread. Let’s meet with the police on a given night and see how we can help. I do know that painting over graffiti, quickly, is a key to stopping this. (BTW, the last tag I saw was not written by a Californian, it was by someone from Michigan. I know the writing. We need to learn to read the writings on the wall.) With all of this said who wants to volunteer? Can we create this group by May 1st?

              His plea produced volunteer response from several other posters.

              While Maricopa is new to this process, Phoenix has a graffiti busting team whose goals are to remove graffiti within 48 hours after a new incident being reported and supporting a zero tolerance approach to graffiti.

              “If you can remove graffiti within 24 to 48 hours, the vandals realize they’re hitting an area that’s being monitored and they tend to go away,” said David Ramirez, spokesman for the Neighborhoods Services Department.

              Phoenix’s Graffiti Reporting Hotline offers a $250 reward for certain information about graffiti vandals. Phoenix has two crews working seven 10-hour shifts a week, said Ramirez, which last year wiped out 48,000 graffiti sites and this year is on track to cover 60,000. He said 80 percent of the taggers are not gangs but kids trying to impress each other.

              While the Phoenix crews are paid employees, the Neighborhood Services Department also makes presentations at local schools and helps citizens organize their own graffiti busting groups.

              The Phoenix department also provides free paint to cover graffiti, and it loans paint sprayers and trains volunteers in using them. Businesses are involved also. Ramirez pointed to Dan Grubb Ford at 75th Avenue and McDowell, which hired a full-time person who covers graffiti within a five-square-mile area.

              In Phoenix, kids caught vandalizing with paint can lose their license until they’re 19, and their parents can be responsible for up to $10,000 in damages.

              Information on the Phoenix program can be found at http://phoenix.gov/NBHDPGMS/grafbust.html.
              More information can be found at nograffiti.com, a nonprofit organization based in California. Click here to see what the group recommends for citizens and communities to battle graffiti.

              Other links:http://nograffiti.com/temp/faq.htm

              Interested people in Maricopa can email McDonald directly at mmcdonald@cityofmaricopa.net.

              Photos by Aaron Thacker

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              A couple of recent drives that resupplied Maricopa’s only food bank came at the perfect time ­as it was down to little more than a can of soup and a half-dozen cans of tuna.

              The food bank operated by the Living Water Church of the Nazarene got 915 pounds of food from the Curves business in Maricopa, and more than 500 non-perishable food items were collected over last weekend during a food drive hosted by Desert Sun Performing Arts and Amy Jamieson photography.

              For the price of a bag of groceries, families could have a photo taken with the Easter Bunny and receive a free 5×7 print.

              “We more than doubled, almost tripled, the number of participants from our Christmas Toy Drive,” said DSPA owner Ceylan Gentilella.

              “Miss Ceylan donates her time and attention to the community and gives all her heart to those who need it most,” said Amy Jamieson of Amy Jamieson Photography. “I love having the opportunity to be a part of that effort, and it’s exciting to see the community participation grow.”

              Pastor Todd Sharp said the Food Bank Pantry helped 48 families in the past 10 months,­ affecting more than 200 lives.

              Much of the food bank’s recent supplies came from a food drive conducted by Maricopa Wells Middle School, the first of two planned for this year. “That has carried us for almost eight months,” Sharp said. “The first drive has gotten us through to this point, and we were about out of food, so this donation came at the perfect time.”

              “We also receive supplies from Maricopa Community Church, individual families from the Nazarene Church, from M.A.S.H. in Casa Grande and Wings of Love in Hidden Valley” he said.

              “Now Bashas’ is giving us food on a regular basis.”

              The food bank also gives food to the Maricopa chapter of the Salvation Army, Sharp said, and it offers counseling, financial advice, Bibles and more to those who need and ask for it.

              While the houses in Maricopa are new and everything looks fine, Sharp said, there are families here who have budgeted very tightly and something like higher gas prices can push them into the red. And some people just budget poorly or don’t make enough to cover expenses or run into tough circumstances.

              Families do not have to “qualify” financially. “We speak to them about their need and how we can assist them,” Sharp said.

              Recipients are completely local, he said, and the process is fairly simple: “You call; you have a need. We discuss the need, and we drop a food box.”

              While there are food banks in the Valley, most notably the St. Mary’s/Westside Food Bank Alliance, Sharp said people have to drive into the city to get it, and it could cost as much in gas to get a box of food.

              Maricopans don’t have to do that. In fact, the Maricopa food bank takes the food where the people in need are.

              “We deliver to them,” Sharp said. “We don’t give them one food box,­ we give them a food box every week until they say, ‘We’re done.'”

              Families do not have to “qualify” financially. “We speak to them about
              their need and how we can assist them,” Sharp said.

              How you can help:
              Non-perishable food items and money can be donated to the Food Box Pantry at the Living Water Church of the Nazarene by calling (520) 568-9054.

              Items most needed are: pasta, boxed macaroni and cheese, soups, cereal, canned beans, canned fruits, boxed dessert items such as Jello, canned tuna, ramen,
              spaghetti sauce (preferably in plastic jars or cans), boxed mashed or scalloped potatoes, Hamburger Helper, peanut butter and jellies and jams.

              Photos Courtesy of Amy Jamieson Photography

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              General Manager Keith Banse said the local restaurant began delivering on Wednesday and expects to have the service in full swing by Friday evening. The full Pizza Hut restaurant menu will be available for home delivery, including pizza, pasta and salads. There is a $2 delivery charge.

              Deliveries will be made within a three mile radius of the restaurant, which is in the Fry’s Marketplace shopping center at 21180 N. John Wayne Parkway. Hours are the same as store hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

              For more information, call (520) 316-6116.

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              People in Maricopa will get a chance to learn about and support local small businesses at Saturday’s Maricopa Vendor Expo.

              It’s the first time time the Expo will be held along a major thoroughfare, so organizer Giina Segarra says she expect an even larger crowd than usual as drivers can spot the event from John Wayne Parkway. It will be from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Vendor Village in the parking lot of Poco Loco Decor & Gifts, 20800 John Wayne Parkway.

              “Most everyone out there are local Maricopa residents trying to extend their businesses,” Segarra says. “There will be handouts about the businesses, samples of products and 30-plus gift basket raffles. Many vendors give out free stuff, whatever their business is about.” Segarra says the expo is held every six months.

              She says there will be specials, free raffles at the businesses’ tables and an hourly $100 raffle.

              Kids will be entertained by a bounce house, plus popcorn and cotton candy.

              If You Go:

              Event: Maricopa Vendor Expo

              Time and day: 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., March 31

              Address: 20800 John Wayne Parkway in the Poco Loco Decor & Gifts parking lot

              Contacts: Organizer Gina Segarra, (520) 208-6777

              Web site: www.maricopavendorexpo.com

              Participants to date: Creative Memories, Home is where the Hound Is, Paws for Reflection, Fine Fashion Jewelry, Mary Kay, Pictures to Paper, Pure Romance, Passion Parties, Amy Jamison Photography, Noah’s Ark Animal Workshop, Bella Bee Workshop, Maricopa Girl Scouts, Bouncy Bouncy Inflatibles, Arbonne, Michelle’s Professional Pet Grooming, Maricopa Baby Talk, Gold Canyon Candles, Avon, Tupperware and B’s Purses.

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                Maricopa City Councilman Stephen Baker and the real estate firm he works for stand to make more than $435,000 for representing the landowner selling Maricopa 150 acres for its town hall complex, according to the sales contract.

                 src=The City Council voted 5-1 on May 2 to spend more than $14 million to buy about 150 acres at $14,608,200, or $97,000 per acre (see related story). The contract notes that the property owner used Stephen Baker (right), a licensed Realtor, as its agent, also noting that he is a Maricopa City Council member. The contract states that the seller would pay a 3 percent commission. Brokers and agents typically split such commissions, with the agent receiving the majority.

                Before the land purchase discussion at the city council meeting, Baker got up and sat in the audience, taking part in neither the discussion nor the vote – a common event when an elected official has a conflict of interest. Neither he nor anyone from the city, however, disclosed publicly what his conflict was.

                Baker was asked this week whether he saw the appearance of a conflict of interest in the arrangement. “I do not, sir,” he responded. “I have a right to work in this town, do I not?”

                Baker has been a real estate agent for less than a year. He declined to answer whether he had been involved in any real estate transactions of this magnitude, referring all other questions to City Manager Rick Buss.

                “I’m not going to comment on it further,” Baker said, “because as far as I’m concerned you’re trying to blow it out of proportion.”

                Council member Will Dunn, the only “nay” vote on the land purchase, said no one had explained what Baker’s conflict of interest was during the meeting and that he voted against the deal for other reasons.

                “I thought the whole deal, aside from this issue, is a bad deal for the city. This puts another bad light on it,” Dunn said this week. “This just looks wrong. It may not be wrong, but it looks wrong.”

                Dunn added that “I absolutely do not think he’s doing anything illegal. Everything should have been disclosed a little more.”

                Dunn’s original complaints about the purchase are:
                * that the city didn’t shop enough for other, perhaps better and cheaper parcels;
                * that the city hall complex should be closer to the center of town, where its location would benefit existing merchants more;
                * that the police complex also will be too far west to be effectively located;
                * and that the city seems to be speculating in land because staff told him Maricopa needs 50-60 acres and it’s buying 150 acres.

                Since the purchase decision, Dunn said, he has heard from a couple of Maricopa real estate agents who said if they knew the city was looking for land, they would find something.

                 src=
                Peed Equipment Company is the seller of the land on which the City plans to build City Hall.

                 src=
                The land is on the north side of SR 238 about two miles west of John Wayne Pkwy.

                The May 2 vote to purchase the land was made at the first meeting where it was disclosed to the public that Maricopa was even looking at that parcel.

                “I had no idea they really were going to do this,” said Dunn. “I saw it as a negotiating ploy for another piece of property we were looking at. I was actually dumbfounded.”

                City Manger Rick Buss returned a call from a reporter for inmaricopa.com regarding the transaction, but they missed connections and did not speak directly. Through the city’s management assistant, Buss was asked what real estate professional represented the city, whether other parcels were considered and whether Buss had given thought to whether Councilman Baker’s large commission in a city land purchase constituted a conflict of interest or the appearance of such. Buss issued the following statement regarding the purchase process:

                “Yes, many other parcels were considered and for varying reasons were not selected. I would guess that we looked at 15-20 different properties, with five particular properties being at the forefront. The City did not engage the services of a real estate agent or consultant. Research, review, and evaluation of the sites were conducted by staff, with Planning, Public Works, Engineering, Finance, City Attorney, and my office carrying the brunt of the work.”

                 src=Councilman Kelly Haddad said that while he believes the approval of the purchase might have been rather quick, it was a good decision for Maricopa.

                “I believe we could have taken a little bit more time to evaluate the market and see what’s out there, but overall I really don’t think it’s a bad purchase,” he said. Haddad added that he is a real estate agent who keeps his eye on the market, and the price seems reasonable.

                The complex will provide a one-stop shop for Maricopa residents, Haddad said, and the land not needed by the city could be used for a park and/or to entice companies and jobs to town, which could ease rush hour traffic going to jobs in the Valley.

                “I see a lot of things that we can do with the excess property, so I don’t necessarily have a problem with that,” Haddad said. “I believe the city should buy a lot of land.”

                Haddad said the downsides of location are offset by it being accessible on a major thoroughfare toward Mobile and Gila Bend.

                Regarding Councilman Baker’s role as an agent for the seller to the city, Haddad said, “I can see where public perception might not be favorable, but as a real estate agent myself, if I had the listing myself, I’d hate to have to back out of that because of the perception. But sometimes perception is reality, and you have to walk a fine line being an elected official.”

                Dunn remains unsatisfied with the deal.

                “Do I think anyone did anything wrong intentionally? Absolutely not,” Dunn said. “But do I think we did it wrong? Absolutely.”

                If the transaction goes through as anticipated, Baker’s commission also will have been earned on the same night that council members voted themselves a salary for the first time, $1,000 a month.