Mayor Christian Price hit familiar notes in his annual State of the City address Thursday night, and there was an echo of unanswered questions about Maricopa’s future.
Price said a main goal of economic development was to “improve the quality of life” of residents but also quickly said he would have no major announcement about pending new businesses.
The city’s Estrella Gin Business Park is still waiting to be developed with flex space off Edison Road once the road is extended to State Route 238. The city received a $250,000 grant for the extension last year with little movement accomplished in 2015.
He said there are also privately owned, retail developments in the works to be announced within the year. He said they will involve stores and eateries. Even before his speech, that was bearing out. Last week the city received a permit application for Edison Pointe, a 134,000-square-foot commercial center on the northeast corner of John Wayne Parkway and Edison Road.
“While this is taking time – it will continue to take time – there are things that we are working on, but it’s the developers who have to move forward,” he said.
The mayor, who is in his second term, spoke to a full house of community leaders at City Hall. His speech, entitled “Building a City,” drew on an iconic “Building a Rainbow” poster from the 1970s.
Like the poster, Price said, growing Maricopa requires a lot of moving parts.
Price addressed various aspects of the city’s victories and challenges, with help from council members in video form.
In economic development, Price touted the success of the Maricopa Advocate Program and the joining of the Canada Arizona Business Council. The mayor also pointed to a raise in the sales tax to reduce property tax in funding economic development.
Afterward, Maricopa Center for Entrepreneurship Executive Director Dan Beach said the CABC was news to him. He said he would like to see if MCE can be involved or put its resources to work in that Canadian relationship. MCE was established by the city as a business incubator.
The city continues to work on transportation and flood control. Price said getting state funding for the planned overpass on State Route 347 “was one of our biggest wins this year.”
Maricopa has again applied for a Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant. The U.S. Department of Transportation is awarding up to $500 million to various projects around the country. Price said Maricopa is hoping for $10 million to $15 million.
Having support from the State Transportation Board and the Ak-Chin Indian Community has brightened prospects for finally landing the TIGER grant.
“We are as close as we’ve ever been,” Price said. He continues to attend State Transportation Board meetings to be sure the funds budgeted for 2020 continue to be targeted at Maricopa’s overpass.
Price said the proposed Interstate 11 is the next big project for Maricopa’s transportation needs. So far, the I-11 corridor is planned only from Las Vegas to Wickenburg. Its full intention is to extend to the border with Mexico, possibly touching on Maricopa in the process.
“We hope to have it built – and I hate to say this – in our lifetime,” Price said.
The designation of the interstate to go border-to-border will take an act of Congress. Price said Maricopa became part of the Pinal County I-11 Coalition to have local voices heard.
“We are doing everything we can do to make sure I-11 comes through here,” he said. “I-11 will transform this area forever. We have to make this happen.”
Also affecting the ability of Maricopa to grow is the flood plain. The city’s geographic location in the watershed for the Santa Cruz and Santa Rosa rivers has been a challenge since before incorporation.
“It is impossible for the city to build with your tax dollars in a flood plain,” Price said.
Maricopa is part of the Lower Santa Cruz River Alliance. It is working on a project to build a northern Santa Cruz channel with the intent of getting more land out of the flood plain.
“It’s happening because we will not give up on this project,” the mayor said.
Chad Chadderton of Ahwatukee Realty in Maricopa said he always learns something at the State of the City address, and the information on flood control grabbed his interest. “That’s very important to real estate values,” he said.