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City of Maricopa

Photo by Joycelyn Cabrera

Mayor Christian Price declared a state of emergency Friday afternoon in an effort to mitigate the impact of the novel coronavirus COVID-19 that has killed one Arizonan and infected dozens more.

Backed by four members of Maricopa City Council, Price said he understands the frustration caused by misinformation about the virus and the government response to it.

“One of the things you can’t know is how the actual the recommendations will come down and affect you in that very moment,” he said. “One of those things we’ve been dealing with is what does this look like on the ground for Maricopa.”

The City gradually reduced, canceled or closed programs and buildings. Copper Sky, City Hall and the library have all been closed. Price said he’s heard from many residents, some saying the City was overreacting and others saying the City hasn’t gone far enough.

Councilmember Rich Vitiello said most of the people he talked to at Copper Sky were not happy with the closure of the recreational facility.

The proclamation authorizes the mayor or City Manager Rick Horst to close the City’s public buildings, limit hours,cancel or postpone City events among other things. The city manager can also “obtain financial and other forms of aid, relief and assistance from federal, state and county authorities.”

The declaration reiterates Gov. Doug Ducey’s order closing all bars, movie theaters and gyms and limiting restaurants to drive-through, curbside pickup or delivery.

Price said the emergency declaration was due now because the city has crossed from state recommendation to mandate and the City wanted to do so in a “fast and orderly fashion.”

Afterward, Price, a financial advisor, said though COVID-19 is causing a financial crisis across the country with layoffs and closures, residents could look for the opportunities arising – besides the opportunity to spend more time with their families. Just as the great recession created a new reality, he said, the fallout from the virus impact could lead to an entrepreneurial revival.

“A lot of benefit could come from it as well,” he said.

Current recommendations of the CDC, the Arizona Department of Health Services and the Pinal County Health Department:

  1. Use social distancing and avoid groups of ten or more people; and
  2. Avoid contact with those with elevated risks associated with COVID-19; and
  3. Stay home and contact your medical provider if you or others in your household feel sick; and
  4. Stay home and away from other people if you are an older person or you have a serious underlying condition that can put you at increased risk, for example, a condition that impairs your lung or heart function or weakens your immune system; and
  5. Practice good personal hygiene, such as regularly washing your hands, avoid touching your face, sneezing into a tissue or the inside of your elbow, and frequently disinfecting.

Horst said he has navigated around 40 states of emergency, between California earthquakes and Florida hurricanes, in his previous work.

Maricopa City hall

In an indication City Hall is closing, the City of Maricopa introduced curbside service in a website announcement today.

“City Hall may be closing to the public, but that does not prevent our committed staff from serving you,” the City posted to its site. The curbside service is set to start Monday.

City spokesperson Ellen Buddington confirmed the decision. “City Hall’s physical doors will close to the public but we will be open for curbside service only starting Monday, March 23 during normal City Hall hours of operation. Most City business will continue via utilizing multiple electronic formats/media as well.”

While many services are already available online, those who need to come to City Hall are asked to pull up at the front entrance and call 520-568-9098 for service. Those services will be available during City Hall’s regular business hours, Monday-Thursday, 7 a.m.-6 p.m.

At the same time, City Manager Rick Horst posted a letter to the community. “While our physical doors may close, our virtual doors will open. While exercising sound virus containment practices, we remain ready, willing and able. We know there are varying opinions regarding what should and should not be done. We seek to balance the reality of the situation with the reality of human need.”

Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

As companies and organizations have temporarily altered the way they do business during the novel coronavirus outbreak, the City of Maricopa has had to do the same.

It is limiting some operations and even canceling some events that were planned in the coming weeks.

Copper Sky Multigenerational Center:

  • As of 5 p.m. March 20, the facility is closed until further notice.

Maricopa Public Library:

  • As of 5 p.m. March 20, the facility is closed until further notice.
  • Some programs to be available online.


  • The Color Run has been canceled by the City.


City Hall:

  • The facility will close March 23 and switch to curbside service.
  • Telecommuting meetings will be established as appropriate.
  • Residents are asked to conduct City business via electronic format whenever possible.

Emergency Services:

  • Police and fire departments will maintain a normal schedule.
  • All first responders are provided information from the health department related to COVID-19 and carry a mask and glove as a matter of practice.
  • MFMD is following stringent infectious disease protocols, already in place.
  • No interruption in service is anticipated.

Encouraging all to do their part:

  • Follow directions of state and local authorities.The City of Maricopa is subject to the direction of the State of Arizona and Pinal County and currently has only limited authority regarding private events or other jurisdictions.
  • If you feel sick, stay home. Do not go to work or mingle in public. Call your health provider.
  • If your children are sick, keep them at home. Do not send them to school, ball practice or other activities or events where people gather.
  • If you are an older person with a serious underlying health condition that can put you at increased risk, stay home and away from other people.
  • Practice good hygiene.
  • Limit gatherings to fewer than 10 people.

Check for contacts and other information

Residents eye plans for a rental housing development.

Review permits for a rental housing development and an RV storage complex both received the approval of Maricopa Planning & Zoning Commission on Monday.

The Bungalows on Bowlin is planned for 196 housing units, a combination of detached homes and multi-family duplexes. The project is a little more than half of the empty acreage on the northwest corner of John Wayne Parkway and Bowlin Road.

Housing concepts for The Bungalows on Bowlin.

Along with the residences, the plan includes 426 parking spaces, covered and uncovered. There would also be 60 garages, some included with homes and some for rent.

Mark Reddie of RVi Planning and Landscape Architecture requested a development review permit for the project and rezoning for residential. The main entry/exit point is to be off Bowlin Road, with an additional exit-only on the north side as well.

The commissioners were uniformly in favor the project as presented, though Commissioner Jim Irving asked developers to keep in mind the additional traffic it would bring to an area that is close to Maricopa Elementary School.

There is a neighborhood between the project and the school. For the moment at least, there is empty property between the project and John Wayne Parkway. Senior Planner Ryan Wazniak said the remaining commercial property east of The Bungalows would still have space for “a drive-thru bank or office building.”

Reddie said Bungalows on Bowlin is to be professionally managed, and no renters would be responsible for maintenance and upkeep. He also said the development would provide a buffer for the current housing on its west side.

The City received no comments of opposition to the project.

At the proposed RV storage complex called MC Estates, however, there were a couple of neighbors who did not like the potential of noise, lights and “rooftop parties.”

As proposed by owner Duane Rudnick, MC Estates would be comprised of RV garages that would also have space for “man cave” activities. Owner described the project as echoing his intent to have a place to store his RV that could also be a place to indulge in his arts & crafts hobbies away from his Province home.

But the combination of uses caused the commissioners to hesitate.

“So which one is it?” Michael Sharpe asked. “Is it a hobby shop that we’re looking at and that’s what we have to judge and make a decision on, i.e. industrial flex space, or is it truly storage?”

Wazniak said the zoning code “doesn’t describe this combination of uses. We have to use our best judgment.”

Rudnick said the property would be owned and managed by those buying into the concept. Like a homeowners’ association, it would have “covenants, conditions and restrictions.” He said members would be buying into a higher-end community with a board of directors, self-managed by the association.

Wazniak noted the sliver of property off Farrell Road is bordered by residential areas and reminded the commission that Farrell is a “significant regional corridor,” which is expected to be part of an east-west corridor to Casa Grande.

Both the Bungalows on Bowlin and MC Estates required hearings on zoning map amendments and general plan amendments. Though around 15 residents attended, no one addressed the commission.

Province resident Duane Rudnick wants to construct MC Estates on Farrell Road.

A sample vision of a "Maricopa Station" from the strategic plan.

When the folks at City Hall talk about Heritage District redevelopment, they are not just talking about changing street names.

The ideas for the area between Honeycutt Road to the north and the Amtrak station to the south are very big, even revolutionary for an area known for long-standing family homes. Lately, it has been the site of City cleanups and demolitions. The City would like to see an “old town Maricopa” concept arise in a community that has never had a distinct downtown.

The vision: A=Amtrak station; B=bus stop; C=car-share station; D=connected bike network; E=neighborhood pedestrian connection. Parking: 01=train station parking; 02=train station west; 03=water tower lot; 04=Honeycutt lot; 05=on-street parking

Tuesday, the city council approved changing the names of the streets in the neighborhood, with one late change-of-a-change in the mix. After the 911-address paperwork is updated, Pershing Street will be Main Street, Burkett Avenue will be Stagecoach Lane, Maricopa Avenue will be Heritage Lane and a section of Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway between Plainview Street and the curve to Maricopa Road will be called Mercado Street.

Rodolfo Lopez, deputy director of the Economic and Community Development Department, said the purpose is to “somewhat rebrand” the Maricopa Townsite subdivision to “create a sense of place.”

A neighborhood open house was held in November followed by a meeting of the Heritage District Committee in December to work out the new street names.

The plan had been to change slightly Arizona Avenue, a road between Plainview and Burkett, to Arizona Lane. However, Councilwoman Julia Gusse wanted one of the roads to reflect the “predominantly Latino” heritage of the area. Because naming streets after some local families might cause conflict within the neighborhood, she suggested instead changing the name of Arizona Avenue to Cesar Chavez Lane for the revered, Arizona-born labor leader.

City Manager Rick Horst affirmed he discussed the issue with Gusse earlier and took it back to city staff, which agreed with the change. The council also agreed.

The new street names come atop a redevelopment vision that would turn the area into a pedestrian-friendly marketplace, hence the street name of Mercado. Lopez said that was also homage to a former mercantile store that existed until 2007.

Early concepts from the strategic plan.

This month, during a strategic planning session, the council looked at ideas for a “Maricopa Station” that could include revamping the Amtrak station and adding areas for retail, restaurants and parking as well as an event plaza for gatherings and concerts. The idea is to have the new Main Street feed directly into a plaza south of the new Mercado Street.

(Maricopa has an existing commercial area known as Maricopa Station northeast of the John Wayne Parkway/Smith-Enke intersection that includes eateries from Freddy’s to Chipotle.)

A Horst caveat in the strategic plan was that the City’s role in the Heritage District redevelopment should be as a facilitator, not a driver. So, lining up commercial developers to buy into the vision is a priority.

As creative place-making, the redevelopment of the Heritage District is part of the city manager’s Wildly Imaginative Goals (WIGs).

A similar “economic development enhancement project” is a vision to revitalize the old section of Maricopa just south of the railroad tracks and along the shoulders of the overpass. The plan, called South Bridge, includes retail and green space.

Flag football is one of several popular sports that occupy the fields at Copper Sky.

One of the intents of commercially developing Copper Sky is to bring sports tournaments to the park. While the 98-acre Copper Sky may seem vast compared to Pacana Park, its limitations in that ultimate purpose become apparent when it does host a multi-team event for soccer, baseball, softball, flag football or, as evidenced in December, rugby.

When current fields are filled with tournament play, other youth teams are sidelined. The fields are full more than 30 weekends a year, Community Services Director Nathan Ullyot said, and ideas for additional fields are hovering.

“It’s definitely a goal,” Ullyot said.

Copper Sky has eight multipurpose sports fields typically occupied by soccer and various forms of football. It also has three softball fields and a baseball field, though all four can be used by either sport during tournaments.

The City’s Pacana Park has one baseball field, a softball field and multipurpose fields for other sports.

“The next step is to create community fields,” Ullyot said. “We hope to have two or three, something on the north side.”

That could involve an area near The Lakes at Rancho El Dorado as land becomes available near Global Water. Ullyot said there is buy-in from Maricopa Little League and other entities for additional fields.

The commercial development at Copper Sky is beginning with the construction of a La Quinta Inn near the dog park. Shops and housing units are planned for the west side of the Copper Sky property.

The ability to expand to more fields will allow the City to compete with other communities to host lucrative tournaments, Ullyot said. The future hotel is considered a boon, allowing visiting participants to stay in town for multi-day tourneys.

Bahama Buck's is planned for a site on the east side of The Wells.

The future site of a Bahama Buck’s in The Wells shopping area received the OK to re-plat during the City Council’s approval of its consent agenda Dec. 17.

Owned by CAPDEVL060, a Scottsdale-based corporation that owns several commercial lots in Maricopa, the subdivided lot is off Porter Road on the east end of the Walmart parking lot. Planning a drive-thru at the location, Bahama Buck’s did not need the full 0.9-acre parcel.

The replatting made the parcel 0.64 acre and gave the rest of the parcel to the neighboring lot, enlarging it from 0.96 acre to 1.22 acres.

The replatted parcels are outlined in red next to Porter Road.

Neither CAPDEVL060 nor Bahama Buck’s has stated a schedule for construction on the lot. The business specializes in shaved ice. The Maricopa store is expected to be approximately 2,000 square feet. The company is planning a store in Casa Grande, too.

The final plat is good for 12 months, according to the staff report on the proposal. If required improvements are not made in that time period, the replat will be voided.

The development of the lot is part of renewed business interest in that section of Maricopa.

Also near Walmart, west on Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway, are lots for another Fast & Friendly Car Wash and an office building that will house dental offices. North of Walmart are a lot for Oasis at the Wells apartment complex off of Porter and a lot for A+ Charter Schools between Alan Stephens Parkway and Shea Way.

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Christmas trees are being dropped off at a lot in the Heritage District.

Ready to get  your Christmas tree out of the house?

The City of Maricopa has again created an area to drop off your trees for recycling, and a local Boy Scout troop can take your tree off your hands, too.

The drop-off location is in the Heritage District near the junction of Wilson and Garvey avenues. Signs are up to guide drivers. It is open 24 hours a day. The City will accept Christmas trees through Jan. 31.

The service is for real trees only, and they should be un-decorated. The trees will be chipped for mulch and other uses. For more information, call 520-316-6946.

Boy Scout Troop 993 will pick up your tree as part of its 13th annual fundraiser. The boys will pick up the trees Jan. 5. Customary donation for the service is $5, but any amount is appreciated.

To schedule a time for pick-up, email your name, address, subdivision and phone number to Troop993@yahoo.com, or call Gerry Hahn at 516-551-4360.

Have your tree out in front of your home by 9 a.m. If you do not wish to be disturbed, leave donations in an envelope taped to the tree or under your front door mat.

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With strong storms pushing through the area, the Maricopa Fire and Medical Department is offering sandbags to help residents prevent flooding.

Bags are available at the Fire Administration Complex, as well as local fire houses (calling each station ahead of time to check inventory is recommended). Piles of sand have been placed at the intersection of Wilson and Madison avenues in the Heritage District. Residents will be required to bring bags and a shovel to the pile site in order to fill the bags.

Residents are limited to eight bags of sand each.

MFD recommends filling bags only half way as they are more effective against preventing floods than a completely filled bag.

Maricopa is under a flash-flood watch as storms in the area, including south of town, could create conditions that lead to flooding of washes, streams and streets.

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Maricopa City Hall

In executive session Tuesday, the Maricopa City Council is scheduled to discuss “potential revisions to the Code of Ethics.”

The possible changes are “based on the application of the Code of Ethics since its adoption and prior investigations, and to give direction on how to proceed” pursuant to state law. City Hall did not respond to an inquiry about which section of the Code of Ethics had come into question.

Executive sessions are closed to the public.

The Code of Ethics is more than six pages long (see below) and applies to elected city officials. There are five possible sanctions attached to violations of the code.

The ethics code was adopted in 2013 at the suggestion of an investigating attorney a year after the council dealt with complaints of sexual harassment against then-Councilmember Alan Marchione. That investigation concluded Marchione did not sexually harass or threaten employees but was “abrasive.”

The ethics code was designed as a guide for elected-official behavior and to provide means of disciplining those who misbehave.

It was first used in 2014 when the council officially warned Councilwoman Julia Gusse after she called a former councilmember a bully during a public interview. At the same time, Gusse accused then-Councilmember Edward Farrell of violating the code when he used profane language in a private meeting to discuss email between Farrell and Gusse. The council voted that Farrell did not violate the code.

While the code has come into play in council discussions since then, even prompting investigations, it has not led to an official vote for or against censure.

Gusse, Mayor Christian Price and then-Councilmember Peg Chapados comprised the task force that created the Code of Ethics.


Apex Motor Club has had a busy track since it opened but still needs to build garage condominiums and a clubhouse.

Nov. 7, Apex Motor Club received a city permit for a subdivision final plat for 48 garage condominiums. Council approval for the project is on the city council’s consent agenda for its Tuesday meeting.

In accompanying paperwork, Private Motorsports Group Vice President Matt Williams told Planning and Zoning Manager Rodolfo Lopez all 48 units have been reserved.

“Apex has experienced overwhelming success with track interest and membership acquisition to the club,” Williams wrote.

The condos for cars are planned to be in four buildings.

Early rendering of possible sports-car condominium.

According to the staff analysis, final plats require water rights transferred from the water utility, Global Water Resources, “upon approval to extend their Certificate of Convenience and Necessity (CC&N) to provide service. This review and approval authority rests with the Arizona Corporation Commission.”

The Global Water line that is meant to ultimately extend down State Route 238 to the Apex site at Ralston Road is part of a slow process. According to the City’s Development Services Department, the only permit issued so far for the water line extension applies only to a section from the Cobblestone Farms subdivision to just west of Green Road, three miles from Apex.

The line extension, meant to serve businesses on SR 238, has funding from an agreement among the City, Apex and Global Water. The agreement has Apex contributing $1 million and Global Water paying for the upgrade from a 12-inch line to a 16-inch line.

As planned, the line would still need approval to traverse a portion of Ak-Chin Indian Community property before reaching Apex. While the estimated cost of the water line extension is at least $750,000 per mile, crossing Ak-Chin property could cost much more.

Tuesday’s City Council meeting begins at 7 p.m. at City Hall.

The only item on the regular agenda is a proposal to change fees in the Development Services Department. That involves planning-and-zoning fees, engineering fees, building safety fees and fire-and-safety fees.

Among several consent-agenda items are a block grant for street improvements in the Heritage District, law-enforcement moves to combat gang activities and an agreement to act as the fiscal agent as Maricopa Wells Middle School applies for a technology grant from Ak-Chin Indian Community.

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Source: City of Maricopa

The Heritage District is getting some TLC from the City of Maricopa. Before it inspired serious discussions about collective bargaining for trash service, the oldest residential area in the city received approval for more street lighting.

The Heritage District is an area south of Edison Road to the First Baptist Church of Maricopa and from Roosevelt Avenue east to Plainview Street. It includes residences and business sites that have been occupied since before housing developments came to town at the turn of the century.

Now, the City is transferring $180,000 toward the purchase and installation of 23 solar street lights to light what are considered underlit streets. The SolarOne lights are mounted on 27-foot-8-inch poles and have a high-efficiency, 300W solar skin.

Tentative placements for the lights are all west of Maricopa Road. They would include three along Lexington Avenue, four along Condrey Avenue and four along Taft Avenue next to Maricopa Unified School District, among others.

The city funding required amending the capital improvement plan to include the solar lights and approving the transfer of funds from the Grants CIP Fund to the Capital Projects Fund.

This item appears in the November issue of InMaricopa.

Architectural drawing of elevation for the planned apartment complex, Oasis at the Wells.

Long in the planning stages, a proposed apartment complex is on the agenda for the Maricopa Planning and Zoning Commission at its Tuesday meeting.

It would be the city’s first multi-family development.

Oasis at the Wells is designed to be 5.12 acres on the new Shea Road off Porter Road, between Walmart and Banner Health. According to the plan to be presented to the commission, it will be 120 units in five three-story buildings. The units will be one-bedroom, two-bedroom and three-bedroom apartments.

The area was rezoned for mixed use last year.

Though current zoning would require 263 parking spaces, the developer is asking to reduce that to 180 parking spaces. City staff indicated its support for that reduction in the staff report on the project.

Staff also noted it had “worked diligently with the applicant in producing architectural interest that will set the design level for future multi-family developments.”

Englewood Development Company is building the complex through Mountain Trace Development and has 14 other complexes in Arizona.

Planning and Zoning meets in council chambers at City Hall at 6 p.m.

Butterfield Parkway will be closed in stages from Monday, Nov. 11, to Friday, Nov. 15, for wide crack repair. Work taking place around Butterfield Elementary School (Duncan Drive and Donithan Way) will take place while school is out of session for Veterans Day.

Wide crack repair is also scheduled to take plan on Bowlin and Anthony Roads from Monday, Nov. 18, to Wednesday, Nov. 20.

Butterfield Parkway Schedule:
  • Duncan Drive: Nov. 11
  • Donithan Way: Nov. 11
  • Butterfield Parkway (one section at a time): Nov. 11-15
Bowlin and Anthony Roads Schedule:
  • Bowlin Road (Anthony to Hartman): Nov. 18-19
  • Anthony Road (Rancho Mirage to Bowen): Nov. 20

Schedule is subject to change.


Mayor Christian Price was decked out for baseball during the State of the City address. Photo by Kyle Norby

Mayor Christian Price’s State of the City address Tuesday covered many activities of the past year – from the completion of the State Route 347 overpass to the groundbreaking for a hotel – and explained plans for upcoming endeavors.

Video by Kyle Norby

Those include
scoping SR 347 for improvement
commercial development of Copper Sky
a new courthouse facility with groundbreaking in November
a light at Honeycutt Road and White and Parker Road
a new library
development of Estrella Gin Business Park
a monument sign at the north entry to the city

Price also gave an update on the quest for a hospital in Maricopa, an effort he said has been going on for seven years. Hospital providers, he said, no longer have the incentives to build in rural areas they once had.

“We are making really strong progress” with one provider, Price said, not naming names. The City has been having conversations with that corporation at the state and national levels.

The mayor also said calls come daily from people in the medical profession inquiring about the possibility of a hospital coming to town.

The theme this year for the State of the City address was “City of Dreams,” based on the film Field of Dreams. A mini baseball diamond bordered by rows of corn cropped up in council chambers and many of the attendees were seated on bleachers. The Rev. Arnold Jackson stole the show with a James Earl Jones-esque speech at the end expressing confidence people would come to Maricopa.

For the mayor, a big applause point centered on the post office. Price has been using some personal connections to make the post office experience more convenient for residents. The current post office building was constructed in 1990.

Price said a high school friend works in the office of the district manager. He indicated that has gotten him the ear of the manager and of the postmaster general to discus the issues of the Maricopa facility.

“The need for our little post office to change is upon us,” he said.

Today’s post office building in Maricopa. Photo by Mason Callejas

The expectation is a series of events:

  1. Placement of 2-3 blue mailboxes around town so people don’t have to brave the crowded post office parking lot and lines at the counter to mail their items.
  2. The construction of a satellite office to handle some of the mail duties.
  3. The eventual construction of a new post office that reflects the size of the community.

Price also said the City is trying to lay the groundwork for a 500-acre business and industrial park, exhibiting a concept by Union Pacific. The location would include a commercial rail spur that would make Maricopa “stand apart in the business world and the Greater Phoenix metro region.”

Price said it had potential to be “transformational.”

City Hall is spending so much time looking ahead at projects and challenges, Mayor Christian Price said, staff doesn’t often have a chance to look back at what has transpired over the past year.

The annual State of the City address is a chance to show the community some accomplishments and what staff has been working on. The event is Wednesday at 6 p.m. at City Hall.

“It’s really been fun,” Price said.

This year’s theme is “City of Dreams,” inspired by the baseball-fantasy movie Field of Dreams and the notion, “If you build it, they will come.” The mayor said attendees are encouraged to be casual and wear any baseball attire they wish.

Past State of the City presentations have included pseudo-skydiving, ziplining and time travel. Staff is keeping quiet on what this year’s showpiece will be.

“We want people to have a good time and learn something,” Price said. “Not something typical and boring.”

Admission is free, but attendees are asked to register to staff can get an estimate for accommodations.

State of the City is mandated by city code. Though the cost was once allocated from the city budget, it has been a fully sponsored event the past three years. Price said the City is now getting to the point it raises more money than it needs as businesses line up to be involved in the show.

He will be talking about the completion of the overpass (final paving begins Monday), the completed, ongoing and pending commercial developments around town, City programs, impact of growth and possible future opportunities and challenges.

“We like to change it up a bit,” Price said of the presentation. “We don’t want it to be stale.”

The idea of the State of the City came from the Founding Fathers starting the tradition of the State of the Union, an opportunity for the President to communicate with Congress. The State of the Union later became law, and Maricopa’s State of the City was put into code as well.

State of the City is presented by the City of Maricopa and the Maricopa Economic Development Alliance.

Waste Management contracts with several HOAs in Maricopa for garbage collection.

Should all of Maricopa be on the same trash service?

The City is investigating the notion in order to achieve one of the objectives in its Strategic Plan, which is strict oversight of solid-waste management. Staff prepared a request for proposals, in essence, to see what happens.

Most homeowners’ associations have their own contracts with garbage-collection vendors Waste Management or RAD Maricopa.

The proposal presented to Maricopa City Council on Tuesday would have everyone eventually on the same contract managed by the City. A code recommendation would have curb-side, residential waste collection required at each residence just as water and electricity is required.

Councilmember Nancy Smith said the move started with discussions about the high cost of garbage collection in the Heritage District, the oldest part of Maricopa, which does not have an HOA.

“They’re kind of getting robbed as an individual contracting with each of these large corporations charging them an arm and a leg,” Mayor Christian Price said.

When the Heritage District Advisory Committee brought the concerns to City Manager Ricky Horst, he started thinking citywide.

“The premise is that we would provide some degree of savings for HOAs, plus they no longer would have the burden of managing it,” Horst said. “The intent would be that it would be citywide, and the city has the authority under the statutes to do this.

“I also want to mention we met with the management groups of the HOAs six months or so ago and presented the idea, so it’s not like we’re working in a vacuum.”

The proposal does not include collection service for business.

The RFP is looking for a service that would have weekly refuse collection and on-call or mandated dates for large-item collection in all residential areas.

“Collectively, when you look at roughly 22,000 households, we think we have significant bargaining power, not only to provide better service at a lower price but perhaps enhance additional services,” Horst said.

Any contract would also scrutinize recycling service.

“Recycling is costing us far more, and they’re not doing anything with it,” Smith said.

Price said he wants to see various versions of the RFP, both citywide and Heritage District only. Councilmember Rich Vitiello also pushed more on including businesses, but Horst said the City wants to start with a residential contract.

“If it doesn’t save money and provide a better service, we don’t go there,” Horst said, “but we don’t know until we go through the bid process.”


An open house to look at a State Route 347 scoping study is planned at City Hall before Maricopa City Council talks about the issue in its regular meeting.

What: SR 347 Scoping Study Open House
When: Oct. 1, 5-7 p.m.
Where: Maricopa City Hall, 39700 Civic Center Plaza

The study corridor runs from Peters and Nall Road north to Interstate 10. The study is being conducted by Maricopa Association of Governments. The road involves Maricopa and Pinal counties, the City of Maricopa, Gila River Indian Community and Ak-Chin Indian Community. At the top of the list of goals for the improvement strategies is “optimize travel time.”

The open house is scheduled from 5-7 p.m. Afterward, during the council meeting that starts at 7 p.m., there will be a MAG presentation on the current status of the study.

According to a PowerPoint to be presented, the study will evaluate improvement alternatives and look at improvement strategies.

Potential improvements are listed as:

• Alternative left-turn treatments
• Grade separated intersections
• Reversible lanes
• Median treatments
• Signage (speed feedback, signal ahead, traveler information)

Improvements to SR 347 are part of Pinal County’s Regional Transportation Authority. Voters approved the RTA transportation plan (Prop 416) and a funding mechanism (Prop 417) in 2017, but a lawsuit brought by the Goldwater Institute over taxes involved in Prop 417 continues in the courts.

Artists and residents check out the art on the walls of City Hall. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

By Joycelyn Cabrera

The City of Maricopa Arts Committee has adopted a new name and was presented with a new initiative that could take effect as early as 2020.

The committee will join another existing committee to become the Cultural Affairs and Arts Advisory Committee. The changes come at the same time as a new initiative planned by City Manager Rick Horst.

The city manager’s Art Initiative is a seven-point list of goals set for the committee to further integrate themselves with community and city management. The initiative as a whole emphasizes public arts as a focal point for the Maricopa community.

“I feel the arts are critical to the city from a wholistic point of view, and to some degree for selfish reasons,” Horst said. “I think the arts are necessary for the quality of life, and it’s necessary as an economic engine for the city and to set us apart as a community.”

Local artists may get the chance to have their art exhibited in city hall and purchased by the city under the initiative’s quarterly art gallery selection. The initiative calls for a $500 budget, authorized by the city manager, so the committee may select pieces for purchase and permanent display around the city.

The initiative also calls for a “social hall” within the current library, where space would be designed and set aside for art-related community events. The space, according to the initiative, would be used for performances, classes or presentations.

Under this initiative, the committee will also determine whether or not public art meets community guidelines and will determine what these guidelines will be in the future.

Quilting by Crystal Dennis

The City Icon Project sets a goal of the committee identifying an “icon” of the community that represents the city as well as leaves lasting impressions on residents and visitors.

The “icon” would be featured as much as possible throughout the community, be it in parks, outside of plazas, or at the entranceways of subdivisions (not unlike the sculpture of wild horses by the Villages at Rancho El Dorado).

Councilmember Nancy Smith served as a bridge between the Arts Committee and the City Council.

“If we found out what our iconic sculpture is, I would say the city manager would be ready to consider something in the year 2020 and start making it happen. I would say the policies that he wants probably will take a year to incorporate as well. I think a lot of it can be done in the year 2020,” Smith said.

Integrating public art into developmental and municipal projects includes public art planning within developmental planning alongside typical architecture and landscape planning. The initiative has the goal of receiving City Council approval for 1 percent of project costs for any future facility development to go toward funding public art for that development.

“I can probably dig up 17 studies that will tell you that a thriving community has to include its arts. Arts are vital just like the schools are vital,” said Carrie Vargas, chair of the Arts Committee.

The goal of defining public art, expectations of city-supported and endorsed art, and policies surrounding public art integration are discussed in the initiative’s “Public Art Master Plan,” which would be developed by the committee to benefit and support local artists.

The Arts committee will be known under a new name and making efforts for a new initiative. Nathan Ullyot, Community Service director, introduced the committee to new responsibilities that come with the restructure of the city branch.

“Arts is ingrained in culture,” Ullyot said. “When we’re talking about art, we’re talking about music, we’re talking about food and dance and culture and theater and all of the things that go into art, how does that look from culture to culture? Those will be the kinds of things that overlap.”

The initiative has yet to reach City Council. However, the name-change and combined responsibilities will take effect immediately. The new initiative and reconstruction of the committee will not change the committee’s overall goals to support local artists in the community.

Joycelyn Cabrera is a graduate of Maricopa High School and a student at the ASU Cronkite School of Journalism.

The City of Maricopa intends to impose its new development impact fees in 2020. It sent out notice this week of a public hearing on the matter scheduled for Oct. 15.

The fees are expected to be adopted in November and go into effect Feb. 2.

Maximum fees allowed are outlined in the Land Use Assumptions, Infrastructure Improvements Plan and Development Fee Report written in July. The city council can adopt lower rates.

The development fees are part of the city’s philosophy that new construction should pay for its impact on infrastructure. For instance, the proposed maximum development fee on a single-family home is $5,473, which is $41 less than the current development fee. Of the total amount, $2,965 goes to streets, $1,207 to parks and recreation, $674 to fire, $496 to police and $131 to libraries.

The maximum development fee on hotel construction, a new category, would be $1,843. Of that, $868 would go to streets, $532 to fire, $408 to police, $32 to parks and recreation and $3 to libraries. The development fee for a new commercial build is $6,867.

Development fees on assisted living facilities, schools and churches are expected to go down dramatically while the fee on daycare construction jumps by more than $6,000.

The city has different fees for north and south. North Maricopa is comprised of the area north of Farrell Road, which is most of current Maricopa development.

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City of Maricopa


The City of Maricopa is excited to announce that initial steps have been made to install a gateway monument at the entrance of the City on State Route 347.

The conceptual design of the proposed monument includes an art piece in the center median of State Route 347 and a sign identifying the City of Maricopa on the west side of the highway. A stone structure is also proposed on the east side of the highway to provide symmetry. The city also plans to install new natural landscape on the shoulders and median to compliment the monument.

“Since our beginnings in 2003, Maricopa has desired to have an entry feature, a monument that announces to residents and visitors alike that they have arrived in Maricopa,” City Manager Ricky Horst said. “This long-awaited monument is now close to being a reality.”

This project is one part of an overall beautification effort to improve the landscaping on State Route 347/John Wayne Parkway. City officials have already initiated the work with the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) to install various landscaping improvements throughout the corridor, which will be incorporated into the project in phases.


The phases are spread over five years to be paid through capital-improvement funds. The entire beautification project was budgeted up to $1.25 million.


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 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


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.