City considers adding cemetery


Growth in Maricopa has brought many things – homes, businesses, recreation and restaurants. One thing it has not brought is a place to lay to rest those in our growing population who pass away.

That could be changing.

In a presentation to the city council Tuesday, City Manager Rick Horst laid out the possibility of using an 11+ acre tract of city-owned land on State Route 238 near the Ak-Chin Southern Dunes Golf Club for that purpose. The city has owned the land since 2006, so Horst emphasized that there would be no acquisition cost. And with a booming population already north of 60,000, the city needs a cemetery.

Prior to Horst’s presentation, Mayor Christian Price said this has been on the city’s radar for some time.

“This is something we’ve discussed for a long time in this city, as well as being a part of our mission 2040 plan,” Price said.

Horst said that while a cemetery is something the city has studied – it was included in the city’s futures planning meeting in January 2021 – it was a historic figure in the city who got the ball rolling.

“In a somewhat ironic twist, within days of that (futures) meeting I got a call from our very own John Smith, of Smith-Enke Road,” Horst said. “He said, ‘you know Rick I’m not going to live forever, and I’ll be damned if I’m going to be buried anywhere but Maricopa.’ So, he got us thinking about our needs and options as we grow up and mature as a city.”

Horst said those options are plentiful.

“We could look at land that we currently own or land we could purchase, and one of the things that has occurred as you well know, is land has appreciated very quickly. Prices have skyrocketed over what they were just a few years ago. So that caused me to look more at properties that we already own.”

Horst made the case for a parcel known as the Peed Property, which the city has owned since 2006.

“It’s easily accessible from highway 238 and frankly, it’s just the right size,” he said. “A community I worked for in another state had a 10-acre plot and that community is over 100 years old, and they have never filled theirs. So, I think it might be a good size, and a good option so I present it tonight.”

The land around the proposed cemetery site is primarily residential or open land preparing to be developed as such. To the northwest is the Ak Chin Golf Course, while the Anglin Dairy property to the north is in the process of being developed as the Moonlight Ranch community with 1,350 single-family homes and 850 multi-family units proposed. To the south across SR 238 at Loma Road will be West Maricopa Village, which will feature 530 multi-family units including 3-story apartments and single-family homes for rent. Acacia Crossing lies just to the southeast.

Horst said the city would hold back about an acre of the land and try to work with a local mortuary to operate at the facility with the hope that whatever mortuary or funeral home that might be would manage and maintain the cemetery.

Vice mayor Nancy Smith raised the issue of funding and was told that management and maintenance and fees for burials would be part of the city’s plan. “It is correct that as we sell plots it’s actually a purchase of land, so it will be recorded deeds,” Horst said. “I would like to see those fees would go into a trust for the long-term maintenance of the facility as we go forward.”