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City of Maricopa

Proposed colors and materials for the Anderson Farms subdivision.

How do new commercial and residential areas affect traffic?

In reviewing two developments in Maricopa, the city’s Planning & Zoning Commission may have caused staff to draw a new focus on traffic impact in future. Monday, members were specifically looking at the details of the planned Anderson Farms subdivision and the Sonoran Creek marketplace.

Commissioner Joshua Babb asked whether staff knew how much traffic would increase in the area of Anderson Farms, which would include around 200 homes in phases 1A and 1B. The property is near the southeast corner of Bowlin Road and Hartman Road.

The question came up again as the commission previewed Sonoran Creek, Thompson Thrift’s planned five-pad shopping center on the southwest corner of Edison Road and John Wayne Parkway. City planner Ben Cereceres said traffic flow in the area will be taken into account.

Commissioner Jim Irving echoed Babb’s concern about the increased number of vehicles development would bring.

“We need to put an emphasis on that because a lot of people walk in that area,” he said.

When told the staff report showed planned roads and expected traffic fell within limits, Irving shook his head.

“I don’t think ‘within limits’ is acceptable,” he said.

Babb requested staff create a traffic-flow study for future presentations. Chairperson Linda Huggins said she would like traffic studies to be more transparent within the reports.

Planning & Zoning manager Rudy Lopez said the conversation had inspired city staff to look for appropriate approaches to the question of traffic flow and traffic impact of developments.

The commission voted to recommend approval of the Anderson Farms preliminary plat for Phase 1B. It also gave the nod to a land-use designation change from commercial/employment to mixed use for 30 acres at Copper Sky, rezoning of 20 acres at Copper Sky and rezoning of 4.75 acres near Civic Center Plaza for the new library. All those projects will go before the city council.

The Sonoran Creek project will come back to the Planning & Zoning Commission for the development plan review.

Say good-bye to the Maricopa Mud Run, at least for now.

The past two years, as it became clear the City of Maricopa was making efforts to develop acres marked for commercial use at Copper Sky, the future of the popular October event became more tenuous. The location of the Mud Run in the southwest vacant lots now interferes with pending construction.

Original organizers had earlier expressed hope a new location could be found once development began. That did not happen.

“With the development at Copper Sky Commercial we don’t currently have a location to build the mud run,” Community Services Director Nathan Ullyot said. “We have re-directed those funds towards other events and programs.  At this time there are no plans to continue the Mud Run as a City-run event.”

The Mud Run, an obstacle course through mud and muddy waters, started in 2014 and evolved over the years. It became so popular, the race had to be run in several heats to accommodate participants. It also included a mini-run for kids. It did have low points, as a serious injury in 2017 resulted in a still-unresolved lawsuit, and last year’s rain-created dangerously slick conditions that caused half of the competition to be postponed.

There is an option for a private takeover of a similar event at a different location.

The commercial property at Copper Sky is scheduled to have a La Quinta Hotel, with groundbreaking this fall, as well as shops, apartments and senior housing. The City of Maricopa recently purchased the corner lot at State Route 347 and Bowlin Drive to develop a possible second hotel and other businesses such as a restaurant, according to City Manager Rick Horst.

Copper Sky Commercial is 18.3 acres, stretching from Bowlin Road to the dog park. Maricopa is working with Tempe-based Commercial Properties, Inc., and Shea Connelly Development. Shea had been involved with earlier Maricopa development but pulled out during the recession.

“We got Shea to come back,” Mayor Christian Price told a Republicans of Maricopa monthly meeting Thursday at Copper Sky.

He described Shea’s reluctance to return to Maricopa, but said City officials urged the company to give it another look after its recent growth residentially and commercially.

“They were wowed,” he said. “They could not believe it. In fact, they had investors from New York who flew out and were supposed to go back that same day and stayed that extra night because they were so impressed with the area. That’s how you’re getting a $147 million investment.”

 

Bowlin Road runs through the Santa Cruz Wash at a sharp incline. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

Bowlin Road is a piecemeal roadway through Maricopa, some pieces in high usage while other pieces are nearly ghosts.

This year, sections of it are targeted by City Hall for improvements in the name of safety. The focus is creating a crossing over the Santa Cruz Wash.

According to City documents, a raised crossing would “increase vehicular connectivity, improve response times of the fire department and provide relief to congestion on Honeycutt Road.”

The City intends to use $974,800 in Highway User Revenue Funds (HURF) for the project between White & Parker Road and Anthony Boulevard in Rancho Mirage Estates. That comprises $473,000 in fiscal year 2020 and $501,000 in FY2021.

Joshua Plumb, engineering and floodplain manager for the City, said a crossing would be high enough to combat seasonal flooding of the wash. “Enough to allow most of the flows we see through there to pass without overtopping,” he said. “It’s going to create that connection that right now is pretty much impassible.”

It’s not just about floodwater. As used to be the case on roads crossing the Santa Rosa Wash, the dirt portion of Bowlin is a bit of a rollercoaster across the Santa Cruz even in dry weather.

“The wash crossing itself is too steep to pass anyhow,” Plumb said. “In a four-wheel-drive jeep you might be able to pass, but in a standard sedan you could not. And, certainly, emergency vehicles aren’t making it through there.”

A sedan is not exactly comfortable on even the “flat” stretch of dirt road between City Hall and Rancho Mirage. The long-range Area Transportation Plan sees a four-lane arterial by 2030.

The timeline for paving the dirt portion of Bowlin from east of the White & Parker intersection to the wash will be driven by development. City Hall does not have a schedule for that improvement. Plumb said there will be a temporary surface treatment to get traffic from pavement to pavement in the interim.

The wash crossing is considered a first step and a necessity.

“Right now, we have east-west connectivity up at Honeycutt, and then you have to go all the way down to Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway, which is the next non-dirt road,” Plumb said. “And then Farrell is there for dirt passage when the weather’s good.”

Because of that situation, many commuters in Rancho Mirage, Sorrento and Tortosa subdivisions use Honeycutt Road, causing traffic backup at White & Parker. It becomes even more dangerous when fire trucks need to reach the site of an emergency and must drive miles around.

A four-lane, paved portion of Bowlin already runs from Hartman Road on the east end to Anthony Boulevard on the west, separating Rancho Mirage from Sorrento and passing Fire Station 572 and the Global Water well along the way.

The capital improvement plan anticipates an opportunity for grant funding for phases of Bowlin Road.


This story appears in the August issue of InMaricopa.

Eastbound Bowlin Road from White and Parker Road turns from pavement to surface treatment to dirt.

Maricopa Unified School District emailed Butterfield Elementary parents July 25 informing them the Maricopa Police Department inadvertently left narcotics at the elementary school after a July 3 K-9 unit exercise.

Superintendent Tracey Lopeman released a follow-up statement:

“Maricopa Police officers informed an overnight security guard late Wednesday night that there was a concern regarding a training exercise that took place on July 3.  Thursday morning, the security guard alerted District officials who contacted the Police Department. The District immediately began working with the Maricopa Police Department to conduct a search. We asked students and staff to shelter in place. After interviewing teachers, officers determined a search was not necessary.

Our relationship with the Maricopa Police Department is important and the District will continue its partnership with all City agencies. However, this incident necessitates a reevaluation of our agreement to include modifications that ensure human error never puts any of our students or staff at risk.

Student and staff safety is always our first priority. We are very grateful that the students were never exposed to the package.”

“I can’t get into how it happened because the K-9 officer is currently under investigation,” MPD spokesman Ricardo Alvarado said. “From a department standpoint, we are going to evaluate our policies and procedures to make sure that they are up to standards with other agencies that have K-9 programs.”

Alvarado said MPD will not be training in any public locations for the time being.

“Any building or facility that the public may have access to, we’re going to suspend that until we have an opportunity to look at our policies and procedures,” Alvarado said.

Earlier today MUSD sent a notification to parents regarding an incident at Butterfield Elementary School. The email shed light on officials asking students and teachers to shelter in place as Maricopa Police Department searched for narcotics they left behind during a drill on July 3.

SEE UPDATE

See a copy of the email below and we will update when more information is available.

Dear MUSD Parents:

Maricopa Unified School District partners with Maricopa Police Department in a number of ways to keep our students safe.  Part of that relationship is the use of District facilities for training purposes. This morning, district officials were informed that during a July 3rd training exercise, Maricopa Police Department may have inadvertently left narcotics on the Butterfield Elementary School campus.

This morning, District officials advised Butterfield Elementary to have students and staff shelter in place while the Maricopa Police Department conducted a search of the school.   After interviewing teachers, it was determined a teacher found the package on July 15; not knowing what it was, the teacher discarded the package in the trash.  At no time were students ever exposed to the package.

As always, our first priority is student and staff safety. We are committed to transparency and collaboration with our families and, in our connected community, receiving factual information from the source is important. If you have any questions, please contact us at 520-568-5100.

Dr. Tracey Lopeman

Superintendent

Maricopa Unified School District

The process of updating the City of Maricopa’s impact fees continues with planned implementation early next year.

A draft report by TischlerBise on proposed fees has been on the City’s website this summer, and city council hosted a hearing for public comments on that draft report last week. No one spoke.

The proposed rendering of the fees in the draft “Land Use Assumptions, Infrastructure Improvements Plan and Development Fee Report” now separates development into North Maricopa and South Maricopa, using Farrell Road as the dividing point. Most impact fees are higher in the south.

City Hall expects the updated fees to go into effect in February.

First, however, the council must adopt the draft report, probably at its Sept. 3 meeting. Then the updated development fees must be posted in September and another public hearing called in October ahead of council adoption in November and enactment 75 days later, according to Brenda Hasler, the City’s senior financial analyst.

By law, the impact fees must be reviewed every five years.

Hasler said the draft report was sent to the development community for feedback. Two entities responded.

She said one was a business in the Maricopa area. “They were primarily more interested in how these fees are going to affect their buildings that they’re looking to build in the future. There were no questions as to how it was developed or the amount of the fees or anything related to that.”

Home Builders Association of Central Arizona also responded through a letter from Jackson Moll that included questions and statistics and took issue with some of Maricopa’s assumptions. The City took that feedback into account and made some changes to items funded by impact fees.

Moll, for instance, pointed out the estimate for replacement football and soccer fields of $1 million was double that of similar municipalities. He also said the City’s estimate for two horseshoe pits ($140,000) was 20 times more than any other municipality.

Carson Bise, president of TischlerBise, responded, saying staff reviewed the playing field numbers and reduced the $1 million estimate to $525,000. The cost per horseshoe pit was reduced to $8,000. Other changes derived from the HBACA feedback included a reduction in roundabouts from six to four, the addition of lane miles for bridges and roundabouts and reduction of cost-per-square-foot of a new fire station.

The City and Bise also pushed back on some of HBACA’s developmental theories regarding how Maricopa is growing and the resulting impact on streets.

“Once we came to a mutual agreement, they were pleased with our numbers,” Hasler said.

Mayor Christian Price said it was important to get feedback from the development community.

“We certainly want to be competitive with every other location out there,” he said, “but at the same time we want to make sure that we’re showing a very business-friendly attitude.”

Click photo to enlarge

The economic boon of more businesses and more construction is showing up in sales tax receipts.

According to the Arizona Department of Revenue, Maricopa businesses collected $15.2 million in “transaction privilege tax” during the fiscal year that ended June 30. Though that appears to be a 22-percent increase over the previous fiscal year, City Manager Rick Horst said it’s not quite so.

“The actual number is about $14.4 million,” he said.

The extra $600,000 was paid by the state “in arrears” from the previous year after an audit cleanup, Horst said.

But the real numbers do result in a year-to-year increase of about 15 percent. In fiscal year 2017-18, Maricopa took in $12.5 million in TPT, also called sales tax.

Contracting, primarily from construction, brought in $4.7 million during the year, according to DOR. Retail collected $3.8 million.

Horst said sales tax collections continue to grow as more and more businesses come to Maricopa. However, he said he is still concerned with “leakage,” the estimated $400 million that Maricopa shoppers spend outside the city.ow

Sales tax helps the City pay for infrastructure and personnel. Horst estimated the hire of one police officer, as an example, with salary, benefits, uniform, equipment and vehicle, costs about $300,000.

“It doesn’t go as far as people think it does,” he said.

Closure Map
Westbound I-10 to close south of Loop 202 Santan Freeway this weekend
 
Crews replacing overhead signs for new South Mountain Freeway interchange
 
PHOENIX – Westbound Interstate 10 will be closed between State Route 347 (Queen Creek Road) and Loop 202 (Santan Freeway) this weekend so Arizona Department of Transportation crews can remove and replace overhead signs for the system interchange with the Loop 202 South Mountain Freeway.
 
Westbound I-10 will close from 10 p.m. Friday, June 21, to 5 a.m. Monday, June 24. Two additional closures will be scheduled later this summer to complete sign removal and replacement. The westbound I-10 on-ramps at Queen Creek Road and the westbound on-and-off ramps at Wild Horse Pass Boulevard also will be closed.
 
Westbound I-10 drivers will exit I-10 at Queen Creek Road, travel east to Price Road, north to Loop 202 (Santan Freeway) and then east to return to I-10. Local business access from westbound I-10 to the Gila River Hotel & Casino area will be available by traveling west on State Route 347 and north on Maricopa Road.
The South Mountain Freeway will connect with I-10 to the west in line with the Santan Freeway. Construction is scheduled for full completion in 2020, although traffic is expected to begin using the freeway earlier.
 
The 22-mile South Mountain, the largest freeway construction project in Arizona history, will provide a long-planned direct link between the East Valley and West Valley and a much-needed alternative to I-10 through downtown Phoenix. Approved by Maricopa County voters in 1985 and again in 2004 as part of a comprehensive regional transportation plan, the South Mountain Freeway will complete the Loop 202 and Loop 101 freeway system in the Valley.
 
For information on the project, visit SouthMountainFreeway.com.

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Maricopa City Hall

 

A special Maricopa City Council meeting will take place tonight in addition to their regularly scheduled meeting to have two public hearings about their annual city budget.

The first public hearing will be “on the City’s primary property tax levy for Fiscal Year 2019-2020.” The second public hearing will be to receive comments “regarding adoption of the final budget for Fiscal Year 2019-2020.”

After the hearings, the city council will discuss and possibly vote to adopt the final budget for fiscal year 2019-2020.

Items on the council’s regular agenda include a request by City Manager Rick Horst to adopt the City of Maricopa Strategic Plan and hearing public comment regarding the use of Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds expected to be in the amount of $180,000.

During their regular meeting the city council will examine these items on their consent agenda:

A potential endorsement of the Pinal County I-11 Coalition’s support for the Federal Highway Administration and Arizona Department of Transportation’s Interstate 11 Tier 1 Environmental Impact Statement and Preliminary Section 4(F) Evaluation. The item was pulled from a previous agenda.

The acceptance of public improvements and maintenance responsibility for all local internal streets within Parcel 19 of the Homestead North Subdivision into the City Street/Road Maintenance System.

Approving the Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) between the Arizona Department of Revenue (ADOR) and the City of Maricopa for the collection and administration of transaction privilege and affiliated excise taxes imposed by the City of Maricopa.

Approval to the Arizona Department of Liquor License and Control regarding an application submitted by Kim Kwiatkowski on behalf of Circle K Store #3486, which is located at 41433 W. Honeycutt Road.

NAPA Auto Parts may have found a new home.

In an executive session planned for Tuesday at 6 p.m. before their regularly scheduled meeting, Maricopa City Council will consider the sale of property to Mel’s Auto, LLC, an Arizona limited liability company doing business as NAPA Auto.

The land under consideration is at the city’s Estrella Gin Business Park on Edison Road.

The council may only go into executive session for discussion or consultation with the city attorney and designated representatives of the city in order to consider its position on and instruct its representatives regarding possibly entering into an agreement. They cannot act on the proposal in executive session.

Also, on the agenda of the same 6 p.m. special meeting is discussion of also selling Estrella Gin land to Electrical District No. 3.

 

The City purchased almost nine acres near the southeast corner of SR 347 and Bowlin Road.

The City of Maricopa recently bought just under nine acres of land in the Copper Sky development area.

As a rule, it is probably a bad idea for cities to just take whatever falls from the sky.

The $2.65 million purchase at the corner of State Route 347 and Bowlin Road took place for one reason. The city may now determine who will and won’t be part of the development at Copper Sky, next door to its $30 million Copper Sky multicultural complex and park.

“We are focused on that property and we are determined to help it happen,” said Jennifer Bostian, economic development specialist for the City of Maricopa. “We are looking for complementary uses to the Copper Sky complex that’s right next door. We expect the senior living complex will need a couple acres. There will very likely be a second hotel.”

A developer has already announced plans to construct a La Quinta Inn.

“We want to make sure that corner is used for sit-down restaurants and restaurant-type venues that are complementary to the hotels,” Bostian said. “It will be a great mix of retail, residential, office, hotel, recreation and senior living. It will be a great new asset for the city.”

Bostian said there is work on assembling the master plan for the Copper Sky district.

“Nothing has been finalized yet, but it is very close,” she said. “Basically, it looks like Copper Sky recreation center and all the surrounding fields will have hotels, apartments with mixed-use retail. That hard corner (next to SR 347) will probably be the second hotel and restaurants.”

While some design mock-ups have been unveiled, the final plan is still being worked out.

“Nothing has been formally approved yet, but it is well underway,” Bostian said.

She said the city is trying to maintain a vision of the Copper Sky area.

“As a rule, it is probably a bad idea for cities to just take whatever falls from the sky,” she said.

The purpose for the city to spend $2.65 million on this land purchase is simple – they want to sell it. By purchasing it, city leaders can control who buys and develops the property.

“That is the bottom line,” Bostian said. “We do want it to all look like it goes together. There is a lot of heart and soul going into this development.”

City spokesperson Adam Wolfe said this is a way for “the city to control positive sustainable growth in that area.”

Wolfe added that Copper Sky represents growth in the City of Maricopa and, with the addition of the SR 347 overpass, future development will be spurred in the southern part of Maricopa.

“I think we’re going to see a boom in the south, just like we saw in the north side because now you can get there. You don’t have to wait on a train,” Wolfe said.

Bostian said the city seriously needs apartments and a “walkable” community, and the Copper Sky development directly answers these needs.

“There are a couple apartment complexes that are really showing some interest in moving forward,” she said. “Copper Sky represents some things the city has been wanting for, for a long time. The first hotel has been an unmet need for some time. Study after study shows how important walkable communities are. This will really be a way for us to do that.”

Photo by Michelle Chance

The City Of Maricopa announced operation of the free 2019 City Of Maricopa Express Transit (COMET) Summer Shuttle.

The shuttle runs May 28-July 12. As in previous years, the shuttle picks up passengers at various Maricopa Unified School District facilities and provides transportation to and from Copper Sky.

This year the shuttle will operate on a limited basis, providing one trip in the morning to Copper Sky, and one trip from Copper Sky to drop-off points at the end of the day.

Please note that unaccompanied passengers must be at least 12 years old in order to board the bus due to minimum age requirements at Copper Sky. Children under age 12 must be accompanied by a guardian in order to board the bus and use the Copper Sky facility.

This service is open to the general public and is American With Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant. Please see the schedule below for details.

Where Honeycutt Road meets White and Parker is often a traffic backup during morning rush hour. Photo by Jim Headley

 

While Maricopa might be considered small by some, in-town traffic is starting to become a problem.

The City of Maricopa is looking at solving many of its problems in the Fiscal Year 2020 budget. It includes is a laundry list of capital improvement projects (CIP) that will make life much better for the average citizen.

One of the items on the wish list is the installation of a stoplight at the intersection of Honeycutt and White and Parker roads.

Heavy traffic flows out of Tortosa, Rancho Mirage and Sorrento subdivision every morning between 7 and 8:30 a.m. Drivers are heading into town, or north onto Smith-Enke Road and ultimately State Route 347 as they travel to the Phoenix metro area for work.

The bottleneck at Honeycutt and White and Parker backs up 15 to 20 minutes daily during the morning rush and again in the afternoon. The problem is exacerbated during the school year when the two schools in Tortosa – Santa Cruz Elementary and Desert Winds Middle School – let out classes.

“We have already reached out to a consultant to get them under contract for the design of that stoplight,” said Joshua Plumb, city engineer. “This fiscal year, starting in July, we will be constructing that traffic signal.”

Plumb said everything identified as a CIP project in the new budget is top priority for staff to complete.

“We will start design at the beginning of the year. Design is usually a six-month process but probably faster for a traffic signal,” he said. “This has some civil work with it. We will probably be doing construction in early 2020.”

The cost of a traffic signal is generally $250,000 to $350,000, according to Plumb, but this one will cost a little more as the intersection will be realigned and a right turn lane will be added to westbound Honeycutt onto northbound White and Parker.

Bowlin Road will also be extended to the east, into the Rancho Mirage subdivision, which is expected to relieve even more stress on the Honeycutt and White and Parker intersection.

“That is also on our CIP for next year,” Plumb said. “We are going to put in an elevated water crossing through the wash so vehicles can traverse the wash. That is not possible right now. It will be a temporary pavement connection on Bowlin Road. It’s not going to be a permanent road, but it will allow traffic to go back and forth.”

The completion of all the city’s CIP projects, including the stoplight at Honeycutt Road and White and Parker is contingent on the approval of the new budget coming before the city council in early June.

Shirley Moenich (far left) said seniors are in the middle of shifting activities to Copper Sky. Photo by Jim Headley

 

Maricopa Seniors have been meeting in a backroom at Santa Cruz Elementary School for a year and earlier the Copa Center for several years.

Next month that comes to an end, and many seniors are still searching for answers. The Copa Seniors are moving out of Santa Cruz June 12.

Every Tuesday many of the Copa Seniors meet to play games. On May 21, they gathered at Copper Sky for Canasta.

“When we got the school, they said we were an adult group, so anybody who is an adult could come and play,” said Shirley Moenich. “What our status is now, I don’t know.”

She said the Copa Seniors are making a transition from Santa Cruz over to Copper Sky for many of their functions. The group is already meeting every Tuesday afternoon at 1 to play games at Copper Sky.

If you’re a senior, you’re welcome to drop in any Tuesday at 1 p.m. and play games.

“Someone is volunteering to supply all of our games, so we’re going to have that in a rolling cart. We will have that available at Copper Sky. Whatever days we end up with, we want to make sure there is someone here from our group that can say hello to new people, get them organized and let them know what we are doing,” Moenich said.

The origins of the Copa Seniors getting together to play games goes back to about 2013.

“I moved here before the town was here practically, in 1997, when Harrah’s opened. We had no subdivisions then at all. I have been here a long time, but I worked so I wasn’t able to join in on this group at first,” Moenich said.

She said as Maricopa keeps growing, the Copa Seniors are trying to get the word out to other seniors to come out of their homes and meet each other.

“And come to something where they can get some social life,” she said. “They need to find out what days we are here and what games we have going. If they have their own game that they want to bring, just come on in. They are welcome to come in anytime we are open – Tuesdays at 1 p.m. at Copper Sky right now.”

Moenich said with the move coming up June 12, many senior groups using Santa Cruz are trying to solve the many issues facing them. One of the largest problems is finding enough storage for their needed items.

“As far as the social game playing group, we won’t have a problem with storage because it will be solved,” Moenich said.

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Denyse Airheart with her EDDE award. Submitted photo

The City of Maricopa’s economic development director was honored in the Arizona Association for Economic Development’s Economic Development Distinguished by Excellence (EDDE) awards Thursday.

Denyse Airheart was named Economic Developer of the Year, Small Community, credited with overseeing projects that brought more than $20 million in capital investment, 200,000 square feet of new retail space and more than 75 jobs to Maricopa during 2018.

Airheart called it an honor.

“To be recognized by your peers and staff as having what it takes to move the needle on projects is a huge privilege,” she said. “Equally I would like to recognize Maricopa City Council, who has always made economic development a top priority, as well as my Economic Development team for the hard work and dedication they put forth on a daily basis.”

Overall, 10 EDDEs were presented during an evening awards dinner at the AAED Spring Conference in Tucson. The other winners are:

  • Fernando Garcia, economic development specialist for the City of Casa Grande, AAED’s New Member of the Year.
  • Lawrence T. Lucero, senior director of economic development for Tucson Electric Power Company, the William Lampkin Award for Long Term Excellence in Economic Development.
  • Heath Vescovi-Chiordi, economic development/downtown specialist, Town of Marana, Member of the Year.
  • Jeanine Jerkovic, economic development director for the City of Surprise, Economic Developer of the Year, Large Community.
  • Harry Paxton, economic development project manager for the City of Goodyear, Economic Developer of the Year, Medium Community.
  • Ian Roark, vice president of workforce development for Pima Community College, Workforce Practitioner of the Year.
  • City of Chandler, Large Organization of the Year.
  • City of Goodyear, Medium Organization of the Year.
  • Town of Camp Verde, Small Organization of the Year.

“What a tremendous honor it is for each of the EDDE Award winners to be recognized for their contributions to economic development,” said Joyce Grossman, AZED Pro, AAED’s executive director. “They truly represent the best and brightest economic development practitioners and organizations in Arizona and demonstrate not only a commitment to the communities they serve, but to the economic vitality across the state.”

 

SR 238 may get a 16-inch water main. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

Tuesday evening the Maricopa City Council will examine the extension of a 16-inch water main down State Route 238 west of Maricopa.

In a three-way agreement, the water main will be extended one mile from its present location at Smith-Enke Road and SR 347 by Global Water Resources. Then the City of Maricopa will extend the line another three miles west along SR 238 with the goal of serving the new Apex Motor Club location. The cost of the line is estimated to be about $750,000 per mile, possibly more.

Global will also pay for the upsizing of the water main along the city’s three-mile extension from 12-inch to 16-inch pipe.

While the intention of the line is not just to serve Apex but the entire growing region, Apex will kick in $1 million toward the new water line.

“Global Water’s involvement is we have a water line improvement that we can make out in that vicinity,” said Ron Fleming, CEO of Global.

Fleming said extending their 16-inch trunk line will improve water pressures and services to residents and businesses already in the area. The line extension will connect in the Estrella Gin area, near the location of the new fire department. The City also has the Estrella Gin business park, that is a 50-plus-acre, city-owned parcel just west of the intersection of Edison Road and Roosevelt Avenue.

“You want to loop waterlines where ever you can,” Fleming said. “Better pressure, better flow, better water quality. We’re going to extend our line down 238 and into Estrella Gin. It provides better system capacity at the intersection of Estrella Gin Road and 238. From there we can better service any future development coming along 238. That includes Apex itself.”

Fleming said in the future any developer along 238 in the area can “grab ahold of our system there and extend it out for their needs.”

Global Water has invested about $40 million in Maricopa’s water system over the past three or four years, according to Fleming.

“We’re happy to do it. All projects that are necessary to provide Global service for our customers and keep up with the growth that Maricopa is experiencing. Apex is just the next great community project,” Fleming said.

One important factor in Maricopa’s growth is Global’s assured water supply, which is necessary before construction can even be considered, if the project needs water service.

“We are happy to work with Apex and the city to ultimately develop a utility solution that works and let that project move forward. This water line is a component of that,” Fleming said.

The water line agreement is on the consent agenda for Tuesday’s city council meeting, which begins at 7 p.m. at City Hall.

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U.S. Rep. Tom O'Halleran

The City of Maricopa will be hosting a Town Hall with Arizona’s First District Congressman Tom O’Halleran on April 17 from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. in the City Council Chambers at City Hall.

Topics of discussion will include, but are not limited to, veterans, Social Security, Medicare, border security, infrastructure, and trade.

Come join him, ask him questions, or share your thoughts and opinions.

 

 

The owners of two Maricopa self-storage facilities attempted to stop the construction of a new 135,000-square-foot indoor storage facility Monday night at the regular meeting of the Maricopa Planning & Zoning Commission.

A project summary was presented by the city planning office on behalf of Vertical Designs Studios, representing PH Maricopa LLC, to build a 4.79-acre, indoor self-storage, multi-tenant shop and automotive repair complex at 20215 N. John Wayne Parkway.

After the city’s presentation, the owners of already-existing self-storage facilities in the community spoke out in opposition to the proposed construction, mostly based on unneeded competition in the storage business.

Storage unit owners Ted Williams and Michael Ransom each told the commissioners they currently have 20 to 30 percent vacancies in their facilities. They warned the commissioners that the addition of 135,000 more square feet of storage will likely drive someone out of business and the city would be left with abandoned storage facilities to deal with.

“I am struggling with this submission for several reasons,” Ransom said.

He told commissioners the storage facility he owns, Arizona Storage Company, was built in 2010 and managed by a national management company. The facility struggled to make money.

“And after four years they could not meet their financial obligations,” he said, adding they closed the facility in 2014. It was purchased by another company, but they re-sold it after just seven months’ ownership. He purchased the facility in May 2015.

“We have struggled just to get things stabilized. It is 70,000 square feet,” he said.

In Maricopa, according to Ransom, there is 185,000 to 190,000 square feet of self-storage. He said that is enough to take care of the city’s needs.

While presenting the storage unit needs of Maricopa to the commission, Ransom said storage needs are based on the population of a community. He said five to six square feet of storage is needed per capita of population.

He then used the population figure of 40,000 people as the population of Maricopa even though the latest population estimated by the city is 52,000.

After some discussion, an attorney representing the city of Maricopa had to remind commissioners they are not there to vote on the success or failure of a business plan. It is their duty to make sure the plan is properly zoned and executed.

“We as a commission cannot say yes and no, based on what type of business,” said Linda Huggins, commission chair. She explained it is the commission’s duty to make sure the planning and zoning is correct and not whether the business idea is a good one or not.

The commission approved the 4.78-acre development 6-0 with one member not in attendance.

The commission also approved the preliminary plat of the Anderson Farms Phase 1A subdivision. It is on land that is part of Anderson Palmisano Farms. The plan will include 80 lots on about 20 acres south of the corner of Bowlin Road and Hartman Road. The plat is a preliminary plan and more will be presented on the subdivision during the development process.

 

 

Photo by Victor Moreno

Maricopa has the water to grow, but it also has a plan.

“Maricopa has had tremendous growth in its early incorporation,” said Kazi Haque, Maricopa’s assistant director of Development Services.

Haque said one of the big hurdles the city has to jump is the flood plain, as it is holding up the construction of 2,000 to 3,000 homes that have been approved. The proposed homes sit in the flood plain.

Transportation corridors are another big concern highlighted in the city’s planning.

Also in the series Drought & Development
Overview
Councilman gives Arizona 30 years left to survive
O’Halleran: Drought means no shortage of water issues
Contingency plan bites into Pinal County agriculture
GWR touts strong water future

“We have been practicing sustainable development,” Haque said. “Our Vision 2040 that our council approved several years ago in 2015 gives us the overall vision of which direction the city needs to go. That was our citizen-driven vision process. These are the ideas we’ve gotten from the citizens, telling us what to do.”

Once the city has a vision it is written into the general plan.

“It gives everybody a blueprint of our physical development for the next 15-20 years,” he said. “These are state-required policies that we have to maintain. Every city and town of a general population has to have a plan,” Haque said.

He said the general plan is the only governing document that must be approved by the voters of a community.

“This is approved by the voters, and we hear what the voters want,” said City of Maricopa public information officer Adam Wolfe. “Each department develops their own strategic plan to achieve these goals. We model our next year or two based on these goals. We do take this to heart. This is what our citizens want, and this is what they have approved.”

One advantage of Maricopa being such a young city compared to most in Arizona is that the infrastructure is new and built with technology and the future in mind.

“When you can develop things from the start that are more efficient, you have a much more sustainable city,” said Wolfe.

Haque said planned growth is also more sustainable because a city can provide infrastructure like water more effectively when growth happens in an area, not “leap-frogging” around the city.

“We plan for it and make it more cohesive rather than fragmented,” Haque said adding, “You plan it but sometimes things go wrong. We try to be cognizant of those facts and educate our staff and ourselves all of the time. We are up to date on technology as well as the rules and regulations.”

Haque said Maricopa is one of the last areas around Phoenix that has large tracts of land available.

“In 2003, they were building homes out here, 60 miles away from the county seat,” Haque said. “There was no real oversight. They were just rapidly building homes. The founding fathers thought they better have control of this place, or it would just be another town out in the desert. That’s when they decided to create a city.”

Though Arizona remains in a long-term drought that has lasted more than 20 years, an assured water supply in Maricopa has prevented the serious concern its possible depletion has caused in the rest of the state. As a result, Haque said Maricopa has “great potential” for growth. The city’s planning area actually covers 270 square miles. In all, the city has the potential to add up to 250,000 residential homes if it actually builds out its planning area.

The city’s planning area goes as far south as Interstate 8.

Haque said planning for inside the city’s boundaries is one thing, but there are variables  the city can’t control, namely road construction that connects Maricopa with the outside world.

“We have this vision. We have the resources set up,” Haque said. “You have to plan it in advance to make sure the infrastructure is in place. If we look at our projection in 2030 or 2040 or 2050, do we have adequate roads? Can they hold current traffic?”

Maricopa may plan their city, but they don’t own the roads leading to Phoenix, Chandler and Casa Grande.

“We need the resources right now,” Haque said. “When you talk outside the city limits you’re talking big money. If you’re talking about east-west corridors and that kind of stuff to Casa Grande and I-10, we’re talking about a lot of money.”

Wolfe said inside the city “we’re in very good shape. We have the plan and we have the natural resources in place like water. The only thing that limits potentially Maricopa from growing is roads. It is access to the city. When you go out of the city limits, we don’t control the roads.”

Wolfe said the City of Maricopa is working with its partners, the state of Arizona and the Gila River Indian Community to make needed improvements take place.

“If you get 160,000 people here by 2050, you have to make sure they can access other areas,” Wolfe said.

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Maricopa City Code requires all business and residential alarm users to obtain an alarm permit and register that permit with the city’s alarm administrator.

Policy updates were made back in October, and are going into effect on Monday, March 11.

On Oct. 4, 2018, it became the responsibility of the alarm user to register and annually renew their alarm system permit with the alarm administrator.

Registration must be completed by the alarm user within 10 days from the date of installation of the alarm system.

Registration will be completed online using the City of Maricopa’s SMARTgov online portal. If no computer or Internet access is available, the alarm user should visit either City Hall or the Police Department for assistance to register their alarm permit.

If an alarm user has multiple alarm systems, a permit is required for each alarm system even if the alarm systems are located at the same address.

A fee of $20 per alarm permit is required upon registration and annual renewal.

Any change of address or ownership of the alarm system will require a new permit to be registered and will be subject to the $20 registration fee. Alarm permits are not transferable.

Permits expire 1 year from issuance. The alarm administrator will notify the alarm user of the need to renew the alarm permit 30 calendar days prior to the expiration date.

 

False Alarms

An alarm user to which law enforcement are requested to respond to a false alarm, shall be charged a false alarm fee. No fee shall be charged for the first false alarm, if the alarm user completes an online alarm user awareness class and submits the alarm user awareness class acknowledgement within thirty (30) days of the date of the false alarm notification letter.

# False Alarms           Penalty
1                                    $50 – No fine if online Alarm User Awareness Class completed
2                                    $50
3                                    $100
4-7                                $200
8+                                 Suspension

False alarms resulting from the following shall not be counted against the alarm user and no response fee shall be charged:

When it is reasonable to assume the alarm was due to violent conditions of nature including an electrical storm which have been verified by the National Weather Service;

Cable, line or power failure which has been specifically verified by the appropriate utility company serving the alarm location;

For alarm resulting from valid situations requiring a response by law enforcement as verified by a report filed by such personnel;

For alarms received from governmental building alarm systems.

If an alarm is received by the City of Maricopa Police Communications Center from an alarm system which has not been registered or renewed as required in Article 10-4 Alarm Systems, a civil penalty of $100 shall be assessed against the alarm user for having failed to register or renew the alarm system within the City of Maricopa. Such penalty shall be in addition to the false alarm charges assessed to the alarm user.

 

Appeals

Should a disagreement arise over whether any particular false alarm fee or civil penalty should be assessed, the alarm user may appeal by submitting a letter of appeal within 10 calendar days of the date of invoice. Failure to submit an appeal within ten (10) days of the notification date shall constitute a waiver of the right to contest the assessment of fees or civil penalties.

Appeals must be mailed or emailed to:

City of Maricopa Police Department
Attn: Alarm Administrator
39675 W. Civic Center Plaza South
Maricopa, AZ 85139

alarm@maricopa-az.gov

A full copy of the appeal requirements is available on the Internet.

 

Suspension of Response

All false alarm fees or civil penalties are due and payable within 30 days from the date of invoice. If an invoice remains unpaid, a $5 late fee will be assessed for every 30 days the account remains delinquent. The failure of an alarm user to make payment of any assessed civil penalty(ies) within ninety (90) days from the date of the invoice may result in discontinuance of law enforcement response.

Law enforcement response may be reinstated for a delinquent account, if the alarm user:

Pays, or otherwise resolves to the satisfaction of the alarm administrator, all fees and/or penalties.

Response to an alarm system may be suspended if the location has more than eight (8) false alarms per registration year and/or fails to pay fees or penalties as set forth in this chapter. Response may be reinstated if the alarm user submits to the alarm administrator:

A $20 reinstatement fee.

Sufficient articulation in writing, addressing proactive measures to be implemented, preventing false alarms in the future.

Certification from an alarm company, properly licensed, stating that the alarm system has been inspected and/or repaired (if necessary), only with cases where repetitive, obvious malfunctioning of the alarm system occurred.

 

Alarm users offered awareness class

The City of Maricopa offers a free online false alarm school for alarm users who have had false alarms. The alarm user awareness class is available on the internet.

The class and the alarm user awareness class acknowledgement form both need to be completed within thirty (30) calendar days of the original notification date.

The class can only be taken for one false alarm in a twelve-month period.

If the alarm user does not complete the on-line alarm training and submit the acknowledgement within the proper time frame, a civil penalty of $50 will be assessed to the alarm user’s account.

 

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Q: Who needs an alarm permit?

A: Every residence and business within Maricopa city limits with an audible alarm, monitored or not, is required to obtain an alarm permit from the Maricopa Police Department within 10 days of installation or 30 days from obtaining possession of a property with an alarm system previously installed.

Q: Where do I go to apply for or renew my alarm permit?

A: Visit the city web page here and follow the instructions to apply for an alarm permit.

Q: What is the cost of an annual alarm permit?

A: Alarm permits cost $20 annually. A $5 per month late fee will be assessed for every 30 days the alarm permit fee is not paid in full.

Q: How long is my permit good for?

A: Alarm permits expire 12 months from the date of application. A renewal letter will be e-mailed approximately 30 days before the expirations date with instructions on how to renew an alarm permit.

Q: What do I do if I need to make changes, or cancel my alarm permit?

A: To make any changes or cancel an alarm permit simply log into SMARTgov and update the information. Follow the same process to cancel an alarm permit.

Q: Does my alarm permit transfer if I move to a new house?

A: No. Alarm permits are non-transferable and non-refundable. You will need to apply for a new alarm permit for the new residence.

Q: What happens if I don’t get an alarm permit and the police are called to my property?

A: If the police are called to your property and no alarm permit is on file, a Failure to Permit Fee, in addition to the false alarm will be mailed to your property or emailed within 30 days. Failure to permit/pay the assessment will lead to further civil penalties.

Q: I have additional questions about alarm permits, who do I contact?

A: Any additional questions can be e-mailed to alarm@maricopa-az.gov. Your e-mail will be returned within two-three business days.

Q: What is a false alarm?

A: City of Maricopa ordinance 10-4 Alarm Systems defines a false alarm as the activations of an alarm system through mechanical or electronic failure, malfunction, improper installation or the negligence of the alarm user, his/her employees or agents, and signals activated to summon law enforcement personnel.

Q: What does the city hope to accomplish by enforcing the false alarm ordinance?

A: The City and the Police Departments goal is to reduce the number of false alarms that occur in the City of Maricopa, allowing the police department to use their resources more effectively.

Q: Are false alarms that big of a problem?

A: Yes! Approximately 95 percent of all alarm calls are found to be false. This amounts to hundreds of hours spent responding to false alarms by police officers.

Q: I received a false alarm letter, what do I do next?

A: If your alarm was a true false alarm, follow the instructions on the letter to pay the false alarm fee, or complete the online alarm user awareness class. If you believe you were charged a false alarm fee erroneously, follow the steps to appeal the false alarm.

Q: What is alarm user awareness class?

A: False alarm school is an easy power point presentation that give great tips on how to prevent false alarms. This can only be taken once every 12 months, and it waives only one false alarm fee for that permit year, up to $75.00.

Q: How do I appeal a false alarm charge?

A: All appeals must be submitted in writing within 10 days of the letter. You will receive a written response within 30 days from the date of appeal with the outcome. The appeals form and further instructions can be found here.

Q: What happens if I have multiple false alarms in one year?

A: Each false alarm is charged a separate fee, and payment is due within 30 days of the false alarm letter. The police department will cease responding to alarm calls at a property after eight (8) false alarm calls within a 12 month period; with the exception of duress, holdup, robbery, and panic alarms.

Q: I have additional questions about false alarms, who do I contact?

A: Any additional questions can be e-mailed to alarm@maricopa-az.gov. Your e-mail will be returned within two – three business days.

 

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City Manager Rick Horst leads a discussion of Maricopa's goals. Photo by Jim Headley

Wildly Important Goals (WIGs)
1. Expedite removal of Maricopa from the FEMA 100-year flood plain.
2. Public/private utilities infrastructure of the city ensures that economic development remains robust and citizens are served in the best and most reliable way.
3. Encourage development of industrial and business parks to enhance employment opportunities and bolster the local economy.
4. Creative placemaking and event tourism – creating a destination city.
5. Evaluate annexation of land to accommodate the city’s projected growth and economic prosperity.

At a city council retreat on Wednesday, Maricopa City Manager Rick Horst recommend the city and Maricopa Economic Development Alliance (MEDA) combine offices because they essentially have the same mission – promoting Maricopa.

“Their website and our website are two different websites with the same information,” Horst said. “We are paying for and managing two separate websites. I’m not sure that make sense. We are all invested in the same plan. They could act as a business facilitator for us.”

He said MEDA often has different conversations with individual builders, developers and investors that the city doesn’t, because MEDA can keep information more confidential, while the city may not be able to.

“Why don’t they (MEDA) have a larger presence,” he said. “They should be front and center as a partner organization with the city of Maricopa. We are a partner of MEDA and we’re tied at the hip. Their strategies and solutions really shouldn’t be different than ours. There is value from them that we can receive that we are not yet receiving.”

The city has been discussing the 500-acre Estrella Gin Industrial Park. Horst suggested the construction of a 10,000 to 12,000 square foot spec building and including MEDA in that new building.

“I think MEDA needs a home,” he said. “It needs a place where citizens can come in. It says Maricopa EDA, not MEDA. With a presence, so people can come in and know where they can go.”

He said staffing would be a problem if MEDA were to open an official office. His solution is to combine the city economic development office and MEDA into the same location, so they could help each other. The combined office would only be a small part of the larger spec building.

“I think we would save money,” he said, “because of the redundancy. We don’t need separate marketing programs. We don’t need two separate websites. Look at theirs, look at ours, I dare you to find anything different in them. They should help us achieve our objectives and our projects. I think they could help us with the flood plain issue. At the end of the day, we are going to have to pay for it. Who better than they can help us get the financial support. Those are my thoughts on MEDA. To take a great organization and raise it to a new level by combining forces.”

Horst’s seven-hour workshop on Wednesday focused on the city’s 2040 Vision Plan, “which is the foundation of any long-range plan, is aspirational in nature and articulates the desired future state of the community,” according to the presentation.

The 2040 plan is intended to inspire the stakeholders in the community to have a common goal in the success of Maricopa.

Horst explained the city strategic plan, a two-year program “designed to provide a higher strategic direction that will give the community a better sense of where the city is heading.”

He spoke about how to execute the plan, sustain the city’s mission, government efficiency and the identification of the city’s Wildly Important Goals (WIGS).

His lists of WIGS were:

Expedite removal of Maricopa from the FEMA 100-year flood plain.
Public/private utilities infrastructure of the city ensures that economic development remains robust and citizens are served in the best and most reliable way.
Encourage development of industrial and business parks to enhance employment opportunities and bolster the local economy.
Creative placemaking and event tourism – creating a destination city.
Evaluate annexation of land to accommodate the city’s projected growth and economic prosperity.

Horst also spoke about changes and eliminations of city boards which are no longer needed. He recommended eliminating the Non Profit Funding Evaluation Committee, the Veteran Affairs Committee and the Youth Internship Program Advisory Committee. All three committees have not met for quite a while and the Veteran’s committee doesn’t have the expertise necessary to assist Veterans while other community services are available to better assist them, according to Horst.

He proposed re-purposing the Parks, Recreation and Library Advisory Committee into the Community Services Advisory Board. He also recommended combining Cultural Affairs, Event Tourism, Age-Friendly Maricopa and Arts commissions into the newly established Community Services Advisory Board.

He recommended making the Community Services Advisory Board a nine-person board appointed by city council. He also recommended sub-committees under the board.

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The transportation plan looks at current and proposed lighted intersections.

The final edition of the Maricopa Area Transportation Plan (ATP) debuted Tuesday night at a city council work session.

The report, compiled by Wilson and Company of Phoenix with a price tag of $75,000, examines the transportation needs of Maricopa, both now and into the future. Most of the burden of the study’s cost was paid for by Maricopa Associations of Governments (MAG) through the Arizona Department of Transportation and the additional $30,000 was credited as staff work by the city of Maricopa.

The study examined the transportation needs inside the city. The final report will be submitted to the city council for approval on Feb. 19.

Amy Moran, senior project manager for Wilson and Company, told the council members Tuesday the study’s purpose was to provide guidance for the connectivity of collector and local facilities to the arterial and parkway facilities identified in the ATP, develop Access Management Guidelines for use by city staff and initial efforts focus on incorporated area for proof of concept before expanding to entire planning area.

Amy Moran, senior project manager for Wilson and Company. Photo by Jim Headley

Moran said the anticipated needs of traffic signals in the city should remain at the half-mile and mile intervals that is currently being practiced. There are a few exceptions to those needs as traffic patterns dictate, she said.

Moran also presented the Transit Demand Study prepared by her company.

Moran told the council members Tuesday the study’s purpose was to identify potential transit service enhancements, to address existing and future needs of residents and visitors, to improve current services, to expand services within the city, address regional connectivity needs and anticipate influence of changing technologies.

During her presentation, Moran said current regional service needs, in order of importance, are to Chandler, then Tempe, Ahwatukee/South Phoenix and Casa Grande. She said projected needs in 2040 will remain the same but their order of importance should change to Chandler, Casa Grande, Tempe and Ahwatukee/South Phoenix.

She proposed a new route to someday take people to Tempe and Sky Harbor Airport.

Both the Transit Demand Study and the Area Transportation Plan will be presented to the city council for approval on Feb. 19.

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Transportation planner David Maestas with a COMET van. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson.

When the City of Maricopa formally unveiled its bus-stop shelters in October, there was a jump in ridership within a couple of days.

“Attribute that to recognition that, yes, there is a transit system,” Transportation Planner David Maestas said.

In fact, City of Maricopa Express Transit (COMET) has been around in one form or another since 2008. That it continues to lie below the awareness level of many Maricopans is a source of frustration and repeated questions about the operation of at least one aspect of the service.

By the transportation department’s numbers, COMET had a ridership (individual boardings) of 7,344 during fiscal year 2017-18. That was an increase of 14.5 percent from the previous year.  The projection for 2018-19 is 8,665, a continuation of a four-year increase.

Those are budget numbers. The last time the city delivered a head count of “unique passengers” rather than boardings was FY 2015-16, when that number was 1,713.

On the ground, the regional demand-response service (dial-a-ride) averages 8.6 riders per trip to medical offices in Chandler or Casa Grande.

The 2018-19 budget for COMET is $354,000. The local share of that was $129,000 while federal grants pick up the bill for the rest. The projected number of trips to be taken during the same fiscal year is 8,665, making the per-trip cost to the City more than $14.84. Overall, the cost per-ride is $40.85.

For riders, the cost of local demand-response is $1 per one-way trip. For regional demand-response, it is $3 per round trip. For the local fixed route, which is the service that uses the new bus-stop shelters, the fare is 50 cents per boarding.

By comparison, in the tri-city area of Prescott a nonprofit operates the Yavapai Regional Transit that started as a municipal service in 2008. It is primarily comprised of three fixed routes. A one-way fare is $2 for adults and $1 for seniors, disabled and kids. The curb-to-curb, demand-response service is for seniors and individuals with mobility disabilities at a fare of $1; anyone else pays $5.

In Maricopa, the demand-response is “the least effective mode of transportation that we’ve got,” Maestas said. “It’s probably the worst of our services when it comes to availability.”

However, he said, an important reason the City continues to operate demand-response “is to make sure that we have viable transportation for seniors. It is [a Federal Transportation Administration] requirement that we have to continue operating a dial-a-ride to serve the complementary transit.”

Two statements Maestas has repeated frequently are “we are growing COMET slowly and carefully” and “COMET was never meant to be self-sustaining.”

For 2019-20, the requested budget is planned at $440,000, with the local amount due to be $169,000.

The route-deviation service (fixed route) runs empty loops through the city some days. Getting more Maricopans aware of the service is one challenge; making them aware they need the service is another.

“It takes people to change their habits,” said Chris Hager, director of TotalRide’s transit operations.

The City contracts with TotalRide to run the COMET system. Hager said it is “probably the smallest” system his company operates, but it is just as important as systems in Phoenix, Avondale and Tucson.

“We are very much in the process of increasing ridership primarily on the route-deviation service,” Maestas said. “That’s a careful process that’s best done slowly.

“What happens is when you start a brand-new service and choose to fund it very generously, you’ve got a huge amount of expense chasing new riders that in many cases don’t even know there’s a transit system in place,” he said. “When you’re just getting started up, you have no bus shelters, you have no bus-stop signs, you may not even have bus stops identified. It’s a process of the ridership recognizing that the transit system is in place and choosing to try it.”

Unlike the demand-response service, which picks up riders at a reserved time and place, the route-deviation service has 11 specific stops, some now with bus-stop shelters. The vehicles run from Fry’s to Bashas’, Pinal County Public Health Clinic and the Maricopa Public Library, Legacy Traditional School, Central Arizona College, Walmart, Harrah’s Ak-Chin and UltraStar, Copper Sky, Sun Life Health Center, Maricopa Meadows Park and Sun Life Women’s Center.

“It is our vision to provide route-deviation service full-time, seven days a week, with council approval, including shuttles to connect communities to the central routes,” Maestas said. As far as ridership-vs.-cost, “we’re still in the process of growing ridership to make sure we can sustain it.”

While TotalRide wants to connect more of the demand-response riders to the route-deviation system, dial-a-ride is still necessary, even if fares need to be adjusted in the future.

Hager said the purpose is to provide “a safe transit system people can depend on. You can’t put a cost on a transit system that gets people to medical appointments. If it’s my mother or grandmother, I don’t care if they charge $50 or $100, as long as she’s safe because she can’t drive.”

 


This story appears in the February issue of InMaricopa. Information has been updated to reflect corrections and recent numbers.

A core group of Maricopa businesses has signed up for the city’s new Business Registry, eliminating the old business licensing process. These businesses signed up from Dec. 16 to Jan. 15 at Maricopa-az.gov/web/Business-Registry.

Accounting: Accounting Advocate, The Affordable Accounting Firm, Trafelet Accounting

Arts & Crafts: ArtiSands, Diane F. Hebert, Red Nebula Studios, Stormwind’s Creations

Automotive: Big O Tires, KB Glass Repair, Knight Towing, Maricopa Auto Glass, Mel’s Auto/NAPA Auto, Moehr Tinting, T&R Roadside Services, A&E Auto Glass

Childcare/Preschool: Cara’s Kids Preschool, Child Care by Tammy Houser, Little Charmers Preschool/Childcare, Nana’s House of Childcare, Tiny Feet Preschool

Chiropractic: A-1 Health and Wellness, New Conversations – Joanne Siebert

Churches: Community of Hope, World Outreach & Bible Training Center

Cleaning: 1st Glass Window Cleaners, JD & Son Carpet Cleaning

Cosmetics: Ana’s Creations, Independent Beauty Consultant with Mary Kay, Marisa McDonald Independent Beauty Guide Limelife

Computers: Gemini Mapping, North Suburban Office Services, Ungatech LLC

Dental: Oasis Oral and Facial Surgery, Treasured Smiles Children’s Dentistry

Entertainment: Eagle Entertainment, Gabriel Magno Entertainment, Twisted Vision Racing

Food Service: Aliberto’s, Arby’s, Burger King, Chipotle Mexican Grill, Dinner at Your Door, Kona Ice, Li’s Garden, N2Frybread, Pizza Hut, Plaza Bonita Family Mexican Restaurant, Sonora Hotdogs, Tastee Pak, WingStop

General Contractor: AAM Plumbing Services, Carpenter Guitar and Ampworks, Negev Design-Build, Rockridge Construction, Solcius LLC, Zomark Construction

Handyman: Bradley Goering Maintenance, Maricopa Pool & Spa Services, Rent-A-Vet Services

Health: Fit N-Motion, Healthy Habits with Brittany Holistic Mental Health, Many Healing Hands, Maricopa Eye Care, Maricopa Foot and Ankle Center, Massage Me, Sun Life Family Health Center, Sun Life Pharmacy, Maricopa Veteran Care Center, Vitamins4Vitality

Home Interior/Exterior Design: Café Design & Architecture, Dawn2Dusk Sun Screens, Southwest Landscaping

Home/Office Repair: 911 Air Repair, Felix Appliance Repair, Mr Appliance of Maricopa

Insurance: American Family Insurance – Chris Cahall, State Farm Insurance – Courtny Tyler, WFG Maricopa – Bill Boone

Jewelry Sales: DC Enterprises, Rikki Sparkles with Origami Owl

Law Firms: Law Office of Jack Pritt

Manufacturing: Pazii Cigars

Marketing: Actually Social, Impact Video Cards, Social Baboon, Thomas Promo Products

Martial Arts: Desert Tiger Martial Arts, Sunrise Taekwondo/ATA Martial Arts and Karate

Nonprofits: American Legion Post, Association of Loudspeaker Manufacturing and Acoustics, F.O.R. Maricopa Food Bank, Zion Foundation

Painting: ACP Painting, Arvin’s Painting, Chris’ Quality House Painting

Party Rentals: Boodle Bouncers

Pest Control: Maricopa Bug Busters

Pet Services: Buddy’s Pet Care, Michelle’s Professional Pet Grooming, Romp and Roam Pet & Home Sitting

Photographers: News of Maricopa, Sunshine & Reign Photography, Yvette Lincoln Photography

Printing: Howard Industries, VinylWorks

Real Estate: 5X Gusse Properties, Comfort Realty, Costa Verde Homes, Duke Plaza Shopping Center, East Family Trust, Guardian Mortgage, HomeSmart Success, Pat Lairson Realtor, So EZ Mortgage, Sunbelt Home Watch, Tena Dugan – Berkshire Hathaway Homeservice

Retail: Adobe Blinds and More, Arizona Law Dawgs, Black Wolf Industries, CVS/Pharmacy, Fizz Envy, FS Artistic Concepts, Gatten’s Honey Farm, Go Wireless, Goodwill of Central and Northern Arizona, Joia Gift Baskets, Kameo Monson, M and D Signs & Designs, Maricopa Shooting Service, Maricopa Solar Window Screens, QuikTrip, Skelys Tees and Moore, True Hearts II

Salons: Hair Focus, Massage Life

Services: AZ Legal Mobile Doc, ITranslateSpanish.com, Juniper Personal & Professional Development, Medical Coding Instruction, Movin Maricopa, Pioneer Title Agency, ProCopy Office Solutions, Guardian Transport, Recycle Today Maricopa, Trophies Plus, TRR Consulting, True Justice, Tupperware – the Fanatics, UPS Store, Women of the Breakthrough


This item appears in the February issue of InMaricopa.

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Maricopa Ace Hardware owner Mike Richey (center) shares a laugh during the Senior Expo at CAC. Photo by Jim Headley

The fourth annual Senior Expo set an attendance record Saturday as 350 people participated.

Counting vendors and volunteers, about 475 people participated in the community event. The Expo offered classes, free blood pressure and hearing tests as well as two rooms full of vendors at Central Arizona College in Maricopa.

Saturday morning started with a free Danish or a muffin and a cup of coffee to all attendees then it was off to visit the many vendors booth for advice and free items ranging from candy, first aid kits, cell phone powered cooling fans, hot /cold packs to even fidget spinners.

Classes began at 10:30 and lasted throughout the day and free pizza was served at noon.

Peg Chapados, event coordinator of the Senior Expo, has organized all four years of the event. She was a member of city council for six years before retiring in December. She was also vice mayor when leaving city council.

“I actually brought this to the city through Maricopa Seniors, which is a nonprofit that I am also involved in,” she said. “We said, ‘What if we had an event where we could put the resources directly into the hand of the people that need them.’ We could also offer some workshops.”

Chapados said she approached the city’s Age-Friendly Committee with the idea, and it took off.

“It has turned into this in four years,” she said, “We don’t have a lot of brick-and-mortar buildings here in Maricopa. It is nice to be able to bring the end user to one spot and have them have access to resources, organizations, volunteers, services and whatever.”

Chapados said the city’s estimates between 4,500 and 6,000 of the 52,000 residents of the city are seniors.

“We are starting to see an increase in our winter visitor population too and a lot of them are seniors,” she said.

Chapados added that the brisk number of seniors attending the event was completely anticipated.She said about 200 people pre-registered online before the event.

“We are hoping to reach as many people as we can today,” she said. “Next year – well my stint with the city is done so I’m not sure what next year is going to bring. We will see. This is a great event for the Age-Friendly Committee for the City of Maricopa, for all our exhibitors and all of our residents. I am hoping that they continue with it.”

She said Central Arizona College was generous to allow the event to take place on its campus as the Expo has outgrown City Hall where it has previously taken place.

“We have some great sponsors that bring this thing together,” she said.

Toward the end of the day, Congressman Tom O’Halleran (D-District 1) made an appearance at the event. He stopped to chat with vendors and attendees and allowed photographs to be taken with him.

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Fee changes for the use of Copper Sky received the OK from city council Tuesday.

Tuesday evening the Maricopa City Council unanimously approved a resolution that will change fees at Copper Sky Multigenerational Center at their regularly scheduled meeting.

The new fees will impact the use of day passes while promoting six-month and annual memberships in an effort to make Copper Sky more sustainable and offer more services to citizens.

“While we probably didn’t please absolutely everybody, I think we generally reached a consensus,” Community Services Director Nathan Ullyot said of conversations with city committees. “For the most part, we have some support for these schedules.”

With all the changes in membership costs, the city is adding a scholarship program that gives discounts on memberships and classes based on income levels.

Seniors automatically get a 10-percent discount but can get further discounts based on income levels. If seniors qualify for the scholarships and the regular senior discounts, they could save up to 50 percent off their memberships.

Seniors will no longer have a separate price point.

Some seniors may also qualify for assistance through their health insurance programs.

The scholarship program has two discount levels of 20 and 40 percent off membership costs. The application for a scholarship is simple and only one-page long.

In applying for a scholarship, the city asks for a tax return, a current income statement and proof of residence like a utility bill or driver’s license. Copies of the documents will also be returned or destroyed after application processing, which should take two weeks or less.

Councilmember Nancy Smith said her earlier concerns over the fee changes were centered on the senior rates.

“I felt so strongly about this concern, that I wanted you to have lots of people to talk to,” she told Ullyot. She thanked Ullyot for presenting the information in many settings, including city committees. Smith also said senior advocate Joan Koczor was a vital part of getting the word out and starting strong communication between residents and City Hall.

Members will also save with discounts on sports programs, like aquatics classes or enrichment classes, as part of their membership. They also receive free event parking and fun-zone passes. Members also receive 10 guest passes per year.

Rates will be categorized at three levels for Copper Sky – member, resident and non-resident.

Copper Sky has about 6,800 members with approximately 2,000 senior members.

The Council also heard a presentation by Denyse Airheart, Maricopa’s director of Economic Development, on plans for an 18-acre development around Copper Sky that will include La Quinta Hotel, 620 units of multifamily housing, a 172-unit Morning Star Assisted Living Center and 53,000 square feet of new retail space.

Airheart unveiled the $146-million plan at the Jan. 9 special meeting between the Maricopa Economic Development Alliance (MEDA) and Maricopa City Council.

Photo by Jim Headley

Ever see a Zephyr fly? Thursday, one actually did in Maricopa.

Maricopa’s vintage California Zephyr streamline passenger car was moved down Casa Grande-Maricopa Highway to make room for the new State Route 347 overpass in the center of the city.

GoPro footage:

Shortly after 10 a.m., two large cranes carefully picked up the Zephyr and gently placed it onto a large semitrailer. It was chained down and driven about three blocks down the highway. Again, the cranes picked it up and placed it on its new rails, beside the former Rotary swimming pool.

The Maricopa Historical Society purchased the Zephyr from Pinal County for the sum of $1.

“They were interested in cooperating with us, the City and ADOT, so that this could be put here and be a community centerpiece going forward,” said Paul Shirk, president of the Society.

Funds for moving the Zephyr came from county funds garnered through the Arizona Department of Transportation’s purchase of the property where the railcar previously sat.

“Because of the overpass, we had to move the Zephyr,” Shirk said. “The county was the owner of the Zephyr at that time, so they put that fund up, so the citizens of Maricopa did not have to incur any expense to do this. Now we’re working with the City, and with the generous contribution of the land by John and Marylou Smith, the City can have a park here and we can have a place for the Zephyr.”

Moving a large train car might be a stressful operation, but Shirk disagreed.

“It was a blast. There is no tense, this is just fun.  Too many people say history is boring. Too much memorizing names and dates. We don’t do that. We tell a story in a fun way. Our meeting is every first Monday of the month over at the library. We spend a little time on business and then spend an hour-and-a-half on fun,” he said, adding, “We have a lot of history to tell.”

Shirk, who was a little teary-eyed when the car was lifted off its rails, said he arrived for the move at 5 a.m. and city personnel had everything organized and in place for the 10 a.m. move under Mike Riggs’ leadership.

“Everything just went according to plan. It just clicked,” Shirk said.

Riggs, assistant director of public works for Maricopa, has been putting together the Zephyr’s move over the past 30 days. He said the entire move went without a problem.

“It’s been a great experience,” Riggs said. “It’s great how the City all participated –  the police department and all the divisions jumped in to help. It has been an awesome 30 days.”

Riggs said the crane company that moved the Zephyr, Southwest Industrial Rigging, also moved it to Maricopa in 2001 and will “swing the bridge girders into place over the highway this weekend.”

Friday and Saturday night, the highway will be closed in that section from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. for the installation of the bridge girders.

“It was imperative that we move the Zephyr today,” Riggs said. “We have a great spot for the Zephyr to sit now for years to come.”

Mayor Christian Price said watching the Zephyr fly was truly an event.

“It was amazing to see it come off the track where it’s been sitting for the past decade plus,” said Price. “It was amazing to watch them thread the needle with that train between the two cranes.”

Price said Maricopa has great things ahead as the overpass takes shape to ease transportation.

“We have been working so hard for the past decade on trying to get through the recession and put things in place that will allow for quality of life. Now we are entering the next phase. That next phase is the explosion of Maricopa, from the standpoint of businesses, commercial and retail. That is what we are working towards,” Price said.

In its new home, near Maricopa Veterans Center, the Zephyr will “be a mainstay that represents Maricopa is welcoming to the community and to people who are visiting. We are going to welcome newcomers in and we’re going to make sure that we have a lot of good events for the people who live here,” Shirk said.

Mike Kemery of Maricopa’s VFW post was among veterans who turned out to watch the railcar move next door. He said the historical society was making its future parking around the Zephyr available to veterans for special events.

Rick Horst, Maricopa city manager, said moving the Zephyr in a safe and organized fashion represents the entire community’s structure.

“Many communities are so divided on so many issues. You just don’t sense that here,” Horst said. “That’s what makes this place feel like home. The future is whatever we want it to be. Our goal is to make sure we create a place where everyone can be successful, whether it is a single parent, a family, a business, a nonprofit, the educational system – whatever it is we want to create the environment that the true values of hard work will pay off in this community.”

Christian Price (submitted photo)

The 2019 Legislative session begins on Jan. 14, and our newly elected legislators will join their incumbent colleagues to begin the hard and critically important work of representing their constituents in the Arizona House and Senate. And the League of Arizona Cities and Towns is ready to help.

The League exists to promote local self-government and municipal independence and this mission has never been more important in the State of Arizona than it is today.

Our primary focus is to represent the interests of cities and towns before the Arizona Legislature, and to strengthen the quality of life and common good of all citizens of Arizona municipalities. We do this through advocacy of legislative and administrative policy that help to make our municipalities more efficient and responsive to our citizens’ needs, and also through review of any policy proposals that could be counter to these goals. When appropriate we seek effective compromise.

Whether elected at the local or state level, we all are bound by our common desire and duty to do what is right for all Arizonans, and it is this shared value that should bring us together to work for the benefit of every citizen that we collectively represent.

As president of the Arizona League, I join with our 25-member Executive Committee and all member cities and towns across our state, to work with our colleagues at the state legislature to find common ground in good policy-making and to ensure that the best interests of our cities and towns are represented.  Together, we can continue to build an even better Arizona – a state that we all love and revere.


Christian Price is the president of League of Arizona Cities and Towns and the mayor of Maricopa.

Photo by Dean Crandall

The City of Maricopa wants to make Copper Sky Multigenerational Center 75 percent self-sufficient. Currently, it is at 65 percent sustainability.

Nathan Ullyot, Maricopa’s director of Community Services, explained a proposed fee change for Copper Sky to the media Tuesday. Ullyot said there has been a lot of discussion, mostly on social media, about the city’s proposed fee changes that will be presented to the city council later this month.

“What is getting missed in all this is the opportunity that we are providing for everybody. There is a lot of focus around senior pricing,” Ullyot said. “There are some really nice changes for families or folks who decide to get a membership to Copper Sky.”

Ullyot said the new fee schedule will allow flexibility for members and provide the city a more sustainable facility.

With all the changes in membership costs, Ullyot said the city is adding a scholarship program that gives discounts on memberships and classes based on income levels.

Seniors automatically get a 10-percent discount, according to Ullyot. He said they can get further discounts based on scholarships that are also available.

“Folks who are at need or in need can have a scholarship opportunity to Copper Sky and receive a 20 or 40 percent discount,” he said, adding the scholarships are based on federal poverty level guidelines.

He said if seniors qualify for the scholarships and the regular senior discounts, they could save up to 50 percent off their memberships.

Seniors will no longer have a separate price point.

“This was done when they opened, and they haven’t changed it. There was no policy to guide that. This policy changes that. The seniors get an automatic 10 percent along with veterans. They can combine that with a scholarship,” he said.

Some seniors may also qualify for assistance through their health insurance programs.

The scholarship program has two discount levels of 20 and 40 percent off membership costs. He said the application for a scholarship is simple and only one-page long.

In applying for a scholarship, the city asks for a tax return, a current income statement and proof of residence like a utility bill or driver’s license. Copies of the documents will also be returned or destroyed after application processing, which should take two weeks or less.

“We are also looking at making sure our Copper Sky programs have an improved value,” he said. “The reality is our annual members will see no increase. There will be no change in their membership. The big changes will be for those going month to month. We are trying to push them to go to six months or annual. There is also an increase to our day passes.”

Members will also save with discounts on sports programs, like aquatics classes or enrichment classes, as part of their membership. They also receive free event parking and fun-zone passes, according to Ullyot. Members also receive 10 guest passes per year.

Rates will be categorized at three levels for Copper Sky – member, resident and non-resident.

Ullyot said Copper Sky has maintained its budget numbers in recent years but increasing costs, like the increase in minimum wage, is impacting the center’s bottom line.

“We have maintained for the last four years. This has been on the minds of the council going forward. How do we hit a better sustainability model? … For a family we want to be the best fit financially and quality-wise,” Ullyot said.

Copper Sky has about 6,800 members with approximately 2,000 senior members.

Ullyot said some seniors are upset about the new fee structures.

“We’re getting some heat from folks who aren’t (members) or some folks who took advantage of day passes,” Ullyot said. “They are losing some of that flexibility. We’re trying to drive them towards membership. We didn’t explain some of the senior impact upfront. After we talked about it – it makes a lot of sense. If people can afford, they do. If they can’t then there is help.”

Ullyot said a lot of seniors want a space solely dedicated to them, but that is difficult because Copper Sky just doesn’t have the room. He said they are planning to increase services for seniors.

“I don’t think we’ve done enough for seniors in Copper Sky. We are working to identify a couple days a week where we can do some senior fellowship programs. Provide coffee and doughnuts and things like that. We are looking for feedback from seniors on things they want to do,” he said.

Another thing that will change at Copper Sky will be rental fees that are equivalent to a sports complex level, not a community park level.

“When it comes to turf and fields Copper Sky is maintained at a sports complex level. Which is going to mean more mowing, overseeing timelines and things like that. It is designed to attract outside tournaments to come into town,” Ullyot said.

Fields at Picana Park will remain at their current price point while Copper Sky fields will increase in rental costs to support “that level of care.”

Ullyot said in the past rental fees at Copper Sky didn’t always cover costs incurred by the city for the event to take place, such as wages for lifeguards.

“We actually lost money. We didn’t charge enough for the amount of lifeguards it takes and the space that was being given. It was very difficult with a private rental, so it wasn’t cost effective,” he said.

Sacate is moving its mill from Laveen to Maricopa. Phot oby Kyle Norby

Sacate Pellet Mills Inc. is relocating its main pellet processing plant to Maricopa.

Sacate, now located in Laveen in southwest Phoenix, has been forced to move due to major road construction, the 202-connection project. The main problem in Laveen, where Sacate employs 75 people, is encroaching housing and traffic congestion.

The new Maricopa facility, which is being built in phases, will employ about eight workers at the completion of phase 1 but is expected to eventually grow to exceed 75 employees, according to a Project Narrative presented to the Maricopa City Council that was written by Olsson and Associates of St. Louis, Missouri.

David Stueve, general manager of Sacate, said the new mill project in Maricopa should be completed by June.

The new facility will be used to process a standard 4-by-4-by-8-foot hay bale, which will produce 3/8-inch diameter by 1.5-inch pellets. The hay pellets will be wholesaled to multiple local businesses and retailers.

The plant, located on about 50 acres southeast of Maricopa, near the intersection of Cowtown Road and White and Parker Road, is expected to operate 24 hours per day, according to the Olsson report. The proposed location will house a feed pellet milling operation and office.

The report states: “The work will adhere to Zoning Code … and will occur in three phases. Phase 1 will include grading of the parcel to ensure proper on-site drainage and retention, construction of one fire access road, building of the warehouse, hay canopy, and electrical building. Phase 1 will also see the construction of a security fence and gate to restrict site access and the installation of truck scales. Phase 2 will include an extension to the warehouse and erection of cubing system equipment to the north of the hay canopy. Phase 3 will see the building of an open bale processing canopy and office building with associated parking and sidewalks.”

Sacate is highly respected for producing some of the best quality livestock pellets in the Agriculture industry. The company first produced pellets in 1985.