Mayor Christian Price spoke of “coming home” during his annual State of the City address yesterday at City Hall.
“We are truly a city unto ourselves, with a heart and a soul … with a sense of community, as sense of place, a sense of pride and a sense of belonging,” Price said in his opening remarks.
He gave updates on the city’s efforts in economic development, public safety, recreation, education and transportation.
More than 170 people RSVP’d for the event, which was broadcast live and will be rebroadcast on the city’s website and YouTube and government cable channels.
“I was really grateful that so many people came, and hopefully they walked away learning something new about our city; what we’ve worked on and what we’re working towards,” Price said.
Price said economic development is a constant focus: “I find myself thinking unceasingly about the myriad of creative new ways to attract small-, medium- and large-size business to the Maricopa area.”
He mentioned the growth of the Maricopa Advocates Program, construction of the Estrella Gin Business Park getting underway and groundbreaking of the retail development Maricopa Station. He said the city is implementing a new planning and permitting process tool, its own zoning code and a citizen-driven, 25-year vision plan. He also claimed success with the Maricopa Center for Entrepreneurship and for receiving federal funding for studies into solving the Lower Santa Cruz Wash flooding.
Public safety-wise, Price reminded the audience the city was named the eighth safest city in Arizona and a new headquarters for the police department opened last year. Construction on a new police dispatch and substation at Copper Sky will commence this year.
The opening of Copper Sky, which has 8,700 members, highlighted growth in the city’s recreational opportunities. Copper Sky won the 2014 Best Arizona Parks and Recreation Facility Award and the city was recognized as a “Playful City” for the second consecutive year. Price also boasted of the Maricopa Public Library, which he said was one of the busiest in the country.
During the 2013 State of the City address, Price spoke of the need for better access to educational opportunities for Maricopans. Recently, the city announced Albright College will be offering four-year degrees in business administration, applied psychology and communications in partnership with Central Arizona College. Yesterday, Price revealed the University of Arizona is expanding its engineering programs to Maricopa.
“This helps lay the foundation to bring high-paying jobs to the area,” he said.
The highlight in 2014 was the city’s State Route 347 railroad overpass project earning a commitment of $18.5 million and a place in its official five-year plan from the Arizona Department of Transportation. The $55 million project is still years – and $36 million – from being a reality, but that didn’t temper Price’s excitement: “Folks, this is absolutely going to change Maricopa forever.”
A mini-loop will also be created with the extension of Edison Road through the Estrella Gin Business Park to State Route 238, and Honeycutt Road will be widened in 2015.
Shirley Ann Hartman described Price’s speech as: “Encouraging. Stimulating. Personally, I thought it was very, very good. … It’s good to hear some of the traffic problems will be solved.”
“I thought it was informative. I thought it was insightful. I thought it was encouraging. I thought he handled it very well,” City Council candidate Henry Wade said.
The format of this year’s address was more formal and reminiscent of a traditional State of the State or State of the Union. Sandwiched between the American and Arizona flags, Price’s gaze alternated between two teleprompters standing at 45-degree angles from him.