The City of Maricopa has launched a new department with a new mission – making Maricopa look good.
Flor Brandow joined the city staff in January as its Neighborhood Program specialist. Her main job is to clean up Maricopa, and it’s already working.
“The City of Maricopa is working in the Heritage District. Our primary focus is to see what we can do for revitalization. There is a lot of this area that’s been here for 40, 50, 60 years. That’s the oldest part of Maricopa,” she said.
With the construction of the State Route 347 overpass, Brandow said, city leaders want to first concentrate on cleaning up the neighborhood next door, identified as Phase One of three in the Heritage District.
Brandow said in the first neighborhood cleanup about a month ago, volunteers filled three, 40-foot long, roll-off, trash containers with refuse. In all, 11 tons of trash were removed in just six days.
“We were trying to do it over a two-week period, but they got so filled up,” she said. “My job is to also go out there and canvas the neighborhood and establish a relationship with this community. It’s going great right now. There are some strong leaders in this neighborhood and they want to be heard.”
In the second city clean-up rally in the same area, an additional 16 tons of refuse was removed from just two properties.
While the clean-up is good for residents, it’s also good for the city.
“The clean-up event is actually most important to the residents. Some of the homeowners do not have the financial means or physical abilities to clean up or maintain their property,” said Wes Moss, Maricopa’s Code Compliance officer.
“The ultimate goal of Code Enforcement is to help maintain a clean and safe community while working with the citizens, business owners and property owners. One of the best ways to do this is with voluntary compliance of violations and guidance rather than citations or other remedies through the court system. As a clean-up event is not necessarily easier, it can help build good relationships with the citizens, while addressing City Code violations prior to citations.”
Brandow said one of the leaders in the Phase One area is putting together a neighborhood meeting to get the clean-up going in the Heritage District.
“They have a contact person now,” Brandow said. “I’m kind of their voice to be heard. I relay that back to the city. This is a brand-new position and a brand-new department that the city manager and council created for these residents.”
She worked in a similar role for the City of Chandler for 15 years.
She said the city needs volunteers and groups to help pull off the clean-up projects. The properties being cleaned are not abandoned but rather homes of older citizens who need help removing unwanted items.
Also, seven older buildings have been identified in the Phase One area to be removed. Brandow said the city is working on a Community Development Block Grant to help fund the program, as the neighborhood is a low- to moderate-income area.
“These owners take pride in their home,” Brandow said. “Sometimes they just need a little help. Not just the Heritage District will benefit from this; the whole city of Maricopa [will] because we all come together and help one another and that’s what it’s all about. These residents are what started Maricopa.”
This story appears in the May issue of InMaricopa.