The Heritage District, also known as Old Maricopa, is the focus of ideas for a CDBG grant.

Pinal County wants to give away $130,000.

Specifically, it wants to fund Community Development Block Grants in Maricopa. The county was designated an “urban county” last year, meaning it can receive CDBG program funds directly from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development rather than through the state.

This fiscal year, that means $1 million for unincorporated areas and $130,000 each for Maricopa, Florence, Eloy and Mammoth.

The county’s grants administrator, Heather Patel, said a CDBG project can involve a block, a street or a neighborhood, as long as at least 51% of the population in the designated area is determined to be of low or moderate income. That does not apply to Maricopa as a whole but does describe some areas.

“Ultimately, your community will decide upon what project you’re going to do, and the Board of Supervisors will decide on the projects the unincorporated portions of the county will do,” Patel said at a meeting of the Heritage District Advisory Committee. “Then we submit that information to HUD.”

Projects must have an urgent need and must address “slum and blight.” She said that means the project should be in a redevelopment area.

The Heritage District is undergoing a revitalization effort in the wake of the completion of the overpass, which runs through the middle of it. CDBG projects can include streets, sidewalks, community facilities, parks roads, even sewers.

Deputy City Manager Kazi Haque said an effort to replace Rotary Park as a recreation area in the Heritage District could qualify. That park and its swimming pool were removed during work on the grade-separation project.

An Owner-Occupied Housing Rehabilitation program that died for lack of interest in the Heritage District may also qualify if the City decides to bring it back in future fiscal year. Judy Ramos, revitalization and transit coordinator, said only six residents had shown interest this year, and only two completed the application process.

Ramos said suspicions and reservations resulted from misinformation spread in the neighborhood and the City’s communication limitations during COVID-19 protocols. But the purposes of that program align with CDBG goals.

Residents of the City of Maricopa or unincorporated areas of Pinal County have about a month to turn in ideas.

“By July 24, the City needs to have an identified project and submit it to the county,” Patel said.

The timeline has projects starting in March.

Haque said as ideas take form, they will be run by the Heritage District Committee for their input, and it will be discussed again at their July meeting.

Learn more about Pinal County CDBG at https://pinal.gov/Grants/Pages/CDBG.aspx.

Past county projects included housing rehabilitation and waterline improvements.