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Copper Sky

More areas in the Copper Sky Aquatic Center are opening May 30. Photo by Kyle Norby

After the previous opening of the lap pool, more features at Copper Sky Aquatic Center are set to open May 30 starting at 1 p.m., according to the City of Maricopa.

The swimming pools at Copper Sky were among the City’s earliest casualties to COVID-19 mitigation measures.

Along with the competition pool, the re-opening includes the leisure pool, water slide and climbing wall. Swim lessons and open swim will be available. The announcement came late Thursday.

Amenities remaining closed are Lazy River, the splash pad and the vortex.

Management has reduced the deck furniture and spread it out, in accordance with guidelines from the Governor’s Office. No more than 100 people will be allowed in the aquatic center at a time.

The center will be open in two-hour increments. Operating times will be 1-3 p.m., 3:30-5:30 p.m. and 6-8 p.m.

Copper Sky pool
A lifeguard watches over swimmers at the Copper Sky lap pool. File photo by Kyle Norby

This was updated May 14 with additional information from the city.

The competition pool at Copper Sky Multigenerational Center in Maricopa will reopen on Saturday with restrictions.

The pool will be open from 7 a.m. to noon on Saturday and Sunday for lap swimming only, and then from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. starting Monday. An announcement will be made in the future about open swimming.

Also reopening Saturday, from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., is the fitness floor and indoor track. Gym patrons can expect reduced capacity, fewer pieces of equipment and potential wait times for access due to compliance with social distancing and sanitization guidelines, the city said. If the facility reaches capacity, patrons will be admitted as others leave.

Public restrooms at Copper Sky (and Pacana) parks will be open. Gym restrooms will also be open, but showers and locker rooms will be unavailable, so patrons should be prepared to change offsite. Childwatch, group fitness and activity rooms not be unavailable.

Upon their first return visit, patrons will have to check in to Member Services to reactivate their membership and can utilize self check-in thereafter.

There is no evidence, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Protection, that coronavirus can be spread to people through water in pools, hot tubs, spas, or water play areas.

But when Copper Sky and other public pools in Maricopa reopen, swimmers will be expected to stay at least 6 feet away from others, refrain from touching eyes, nose or mouth, and use hand sanitizer when getting out of the water. In addition, they should leave their face mask with their towel when in the pool so they have no problems breathing in the water.

People at higher risk for severe illness – including adults 65 and older and those with serious underlying medical conditions – should avoid visiting pools.

Patrons should also be prepared for the following modifications:

  • Patrons are required to comply with staff and posted signage, which will provide direction for social distancing and hygiene practices in accordance with state and federal guidance.
  • Patrons are required to thoroughly wipe down gym equipment prior to and after use with provided cleaning supplies.
  • Patrons at higher risk for severe illness are asked to stay home.
  • Upon leaving the gym, use hand sanitizer. When you get home, wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.

If patron exhibits visible symptoms of COVID-19 listed below, they may be asked to leave facility. Persons displaying the following signs are asked not to enter the building:

  • A cough (defined as new onset of cough within previous 14 days)
  • Fever over 100.4°F
  • Shortness of breath
  • Contact with someone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 within the past 14 days
  • A household member with respiratory or fever symptoms

On Tuesday, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey announced that gyms, pools spas and massage therapy can begin today with implementation of public health protections and CDC guidelines.

Ducey said Wednesday his stay-at-home order will expire Friday because pandemic data indicates declining symptoms, declining percentage of positive tests, adequate hospital capacity and expanded testing.

It will be replaced by a new executive order (pdf), “Stay Healthy, Return Smarter, Return Stronger,” that focuses on vulnerable individuals, he said.

Copper Sky Swim Girl
Copper Sky lifeguard Rebecca Montes plays with Emilia Perez. The city expects to announced Wednesday its reopening plan for the pool at gym at the complex. File photo by Victor Moreno

Gyms and pools can reopen on Wednesday with implementation of public health protections and CDC guidelines, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey announced in a Tuesday afternoon news conference.

Arizona is headed in the right direction, Ducey said.

“This is a green light for the way to move forward to being out of the pandemic,” he said. “We are going to proceed with caution.

“The objective is to return stronger as a state,” he added, noting that the idea of social distancing is not going away.

City of Maricopa officials are working Tuesday afternoon on evaluating guidelines for a reopening plan of the gym and pool at the Copper Sky Multigenerational Center, according to Ellen Buddington, communications and events manager in the city’s Community Services Department.

The city plans to announce Wednesday a response and timeline for reopening of the recreational complex and aquatic center, she said.

Lee Feiles, owner of ATA Martial Arts Studio, said while he wasn’t completely surprised at the announcement, he said gyms “were given no warning ahead of time.”

He had already set a goal of May 25 but may accelerate his game plan by a week or so to prepare his gym to meet all guidelines. That means limiting the number of clients to 10 at a time and maximizing social distancing. He said they will also be sanitizing before and after each group training.

Feiles said about half of his clientele continued to participate through his online program on a temporary basis. However, some have been without jobs, and he’s uncertain when they will be able to take classes again. Others, he said, “fell off the face of the earth.”

So, he does not know how much of his clientele he will have to rebuild.

Though he can open his doors tomorrow and knows some gyms in town are ready to do so, he wants to be measured and cautious. That is an echo of an approach espoused by the governor.

“This is a green light to continue going forward on the way out of this pandemic,” Ducey said. “It is not a green light to speed. This is a green light to proceed, and we’re going to proceed with caution.”

Spas and massage therapists can also reopen starting Wednesday.

There is no evidence, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Protection, that coronavirus can be spread to people through water in pools, hot tubs, spas, or water play areas.

But when Copper Sky and other public pools in Maricopa open, patrons will be expected to stay at least 6 feet away from others, refrain from touching eyes, nose or mouth, and use hand sanitizer when getting out of the water. In addition, they should leave their face mask with their towel when in the pool so they have no problems breathing in the water.

People at higher risk for severe illness – including adults 65 and older and those with serious underlying medical conditions – should avoid visiting pools.

Pool operators are required to maintain physical distancing, to the extent possible, and provide additional space between pool chairs at community pools to promote distancing. They also most provide access to soap and water for handwashing or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer at stations around the pool for use by employees and clients. Pools should require lifeguards and other employees to regularly wash their hands for at least 20 seconds.

Ducey said his stay-at-home order will expire Friday because the data indicates declining symptoms, declining percentage of positive tests, adequate hospital capacity and expanded testing.

It will be replaced by a new executive order (pdf), “Stay Healthy, Return Smarter, Return Stronger,” that focuses on vulnerable individuals, he said.

After Friday, there will be a limited reopening of major league sports, but without fans, again with the implementation of public health protections and CDC guidelines, the governor indicated.

With a hint at how future economic data may play out, Ducey said there has been a “complete crush on the system” in unemployment claims and said the state was trying to fix the system to get out from under being overwhelmed. At the same time, he said 80% of Arizona’s workforce did not suffer job loss or a decrease in pay.

Castigated on the subject in a previous news conference, the governor and Dr. Cara Christ, director of the state’s health department, said there is a focus on long-term care facilities and prisons.

After a “testing blitz,” which started slowly three weeks ago, the state has watched the percentage of positive cases decrease the last two weeks. The blitz had aimed for 20,000 tests per weekend but had only about 5,400 the first weekend. Christ said that was followed by 20,000 and then 30,000 when the previous weekly average had been about 11,000.

In Arizona, 562 people have died as a result of COVID-19.

Raquel Hendrickson contributed to this report.

The City of Maricopa had closed the dog park at Copper Sky.

The dog park at Copper Sky Regional Park had been one of the amenities that remained accessible after the center, pool and playgrounds were shutdown due to COVID-19.

That changed Friday, however, because of human behavior.

“People were tending to gather at the seating area while their dogs play,” said Nathan Ullyot, director of the Community Services Department.

With social distancing the new norm, Ullyot said closing the area was consistent with Gov. Doug Ducey’s executive order Friday that broadened closures to include outdoor basketball courts and other recreational areas that bring people into close proximity.

“Dog owners are still welcome to walk their dogs in the open space throughout the park,” Ullyot said.

The City closed playgrounds and public restrooms at Copper Sky and Pacana Park. Many homeowner’s associations have also taped off playgrounds, as has Ak-Chin Indian Community.  

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Maricopa Salsa Festival had a new setting at Copper Sky Saturday as attendees, vendors and salsa chefs gathered on the soccer fields for food, games and entertainment. The festival’s grand prize for overall best salsa went to Hey Salsa Lovers, which won $1,000. The day included live music from Supernatural (Santana tribute band), Karla Perez as Selena and Metalachi. It was the 16th year for the festival, the biggest city-sponsored event.

 

IF YOU GO
What: Maricopa City Council Meeting
When: Feb. 4, 7 p.m.
Where: City Hall, 39700 W. Civic Center Plaza

The construction of senior housing, a first for Maricopa, comes before the city council next week in the form of development agreements for Copper Sky.

A housing complex of 146 units for senior citizens is planned at the corner of Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Greythorn Drive in the park’s commercial district. The agreement is on both a special meeting agenda for a closed session and then the open-meeting agenda that starts at 7 p.m. Tuesday.

The agreements are about more than senior housing, though there is likewise a plan for 28 senior casitas. More than 600 other apartments are part of the preliminary site plan.

These are in addition to the apartment complex already in development off Porter Road.

“We are going to get apartments in Maricopa. I’ve been saying that for two years,” Councilmember Henry Wade said. “Get used to that fact.” None of the planned housing is subsidized.

With four development companies and the City involved, the new agreements look to develop commercial and mixed-use properties at Copper Sky. The entire area, which borders the La Quinta Inn property, comprises 18 acres known as Copper Sky Commercial and nine acres known as Bowlin Plaza.

La Quinta, located just north of the dog park, is the only site currently under development at Copper Sky. It is scheduled to open in November.


Copper Sky Commercial Senior Housing LLC is agreeing to build 146 senior apartments defined as “independent living units, assisted living units and memory care units” in the agreement. That agreement also includes the stipulation the complex will be complete within 18 months of the property purchase. The price is $699,140.

Shea Connelly Development LLC is purchasing Bowlin Plaza ($762,300) with the agreement to build an independent-living complex for seniors. The plan is to have 28 casitas with a clubhouse and pool on the property on the southeast corner of John Wayne Parkway and Bowlin Road.

At the same time, Copper Sky Commercial Mixed Use North LLC is to buy property south of the senior apartments and north and west of Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard for $1.3 million for 16,000 square feet of commercial space and around 330 apartments. Copper Sky Commercial Mixed Use South has the same agreement to create 16,000 square feet of commercial space and 330 apartments south of Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard for $1.4 million. They both have 24 months to complete their complexes.

The incentives to develop the property commercially could result in the buyers being reimbursed much of the purchase price. Copper Sky Senior Housing, for instance, is buying the lot for just under $700,000, according to the agreement. By the time the City pays the $42,000 in commissions and $10,000 in closing costs is deducted, the price is just $647,000. When 25% of the project is complete, the City will reimburse the company 25% of the purchase price. When 50% is completed, another 25% is reimbursed, and so on.

Renaming Streets

Also on the agenda is a plan for renaming streets in the Heritage Redevelopment District between Honeycutt Road and Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway. The process was initiated by the City, and the Heritage District Advisory Committee was part of the process.

The City wants to rename Burkett Avenue, which is in two parts – from Plainview Street west to North Pershing Street and from Pershing Street west to a dead end at the overpass wall. If approved, both sections of Burkett would become West Stagecoach Lane.

Maricopa Avenue, which also runs between Plainview and Pershing, would be renamed Heritage Lane.

Arizona Avenue, currently between Plainview and Burkett, would be renamed Arizona Lane.

Pershing Street, which runs between MCG Highway and Honeycutt Road, would be renamed North Main Street.

The section of MCG Highway between Plainview to the curve west of the overpass would become West Mercado Street.

Tuesday’s agenda includes a hearing for public comments before the council votes on the street-renaming resolution.

As the night air cooled, balloon operators started the inflation process for the night's Glow. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

The City of Maricopa’s inaugural Copa Glow hot air balloon fest and marketplace packed a crowd into Copper Sky Saturday evening. Balloon operators showed off their burner skills as residents got up close and personal to see how it all worked. While most of the colorful balloons were tethered to focus on “glowing,” two balloons gave paying customers a chance to ride a few dozen feet into the air. The sights and sounds from the park even elicited calls to police by unsuspecting residents at home. The free event also touted vendors, music and an outdoor movie.

Nyesa and Josiah Cartwright show off their dad's catch Saturday morning at Family Fishing Day.

Dozens of Maricopans turned out early Monday morning for the annual Family Fishing Day at the Copper Sky lake. They were able to fish for free without a license, with instructions, rods and bait available. The lake was freshly stocked with rainbow trout. Corn bait seemed particularly effective. The City of Maricopa works with Arizona Game and Fish Department to offer the experience each January.

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.

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Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

More than 30 teams from across the country gathered at Copper Sky for Arizona Rugby Fest, an annual event that Maricopa hosted for the first time. Men, women and “old boy” masters competed, filling the soccer fields and multi-use fields and giving a gritty display of the rugged sport.

Maricopa Chorus sings at Merry Copa. Photos by Kyle Norby

Crowds turned out for Maricopa’s Merry Copa holiday celebration Friday night at Copper Sky. The evening included the tree lighting and fireworks along with a hot-air balloon glow. Kids enjoyed snow sledding and ice skating, games and cookies, and much more at the annual event.

IF YOU GO
What: Merry Copa
When: Dec. 6, 6-9 p.m.
Where: Copper Sky Regional Park, 44345 W. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
How much: Free entry, activity wristbands $5, onsite parking $5
Info: MerryCopa.com

When the City of Maricopa event coordinators subtitled this year’s Merry Copa celebration “Let It Snow,” they were serious.

The City is hauling in 50 tons of snow for the annual event for lots of sledding opportunities at the annual event, which this year is on a Friday. Kids will also find a bounce house and mechanical reindeer rodeo.

Santa will again be on hand to greet children, and the horse-drawn carriage will return for a “sleigh ride.” There will be contests for ugliest sweater and fastest doughnut-eating. If you prefer your dough in a different form, there will also be cookie-decorating.

Techies can indulge in virtual reality and esports. Vendors and food trucks will also be on hand.

Maricopa Chorus will sing carols as will the school choir from Leading Edge Academy. Bring your ice skates for the faux ice rink and check out the reindeer ranch.

A hot-air balloon glow display is back, too.

Mayor Christian Price is scheduled to lead the tree lighting just before 9 p.m., when the City has planned a fireworks display.

Parking at Copper Sky will be $5, but attendees can also park at Maricopa High School or Maricopa Wells Middle School, both on Honeycutt Avenue, and ride the free shuttle to and from the park.

The 5K Santa Run has been canceled, according to Marketing and Development Coordinator Matthew Reiter.


This story appears in the December issue of InMaricopa. Information on the Santa Run cancellation has been added.

 

Maricopa Turkey Trot, now in its 12th year, brought in 961 pounds of food to restock the shelves at the food bank at F.O.R. Maricopa. The Thanksgiving morning event at Copper Sky included a 5K run an 1-mile walk for all ages. To enter, participants brought nonperishable food. The first 36 finishers received a pumpkin pie (the youngest being 6 years old). The event is organized by the City of Maricopa.

Photo by Victor Moreno

The franchise owner of a planned La Quinta Inn, accompanied by family, partners and city officials, broke ground at Copper Sky Regional Park on Friday morning. Andy Bhakta also turned earth for a hotel in Holbrook this year.

“Last year, we came to the city, it was the weekend. We met Rick [Horst], the city manager. He asked us, first question, how long it takes to build a hotel,” investor Ravikumar Balenalli said during the groundbreaking. “We said, if everything works out, one year. That was last September.”

“We have this beautiful park, and it’s one of the nicest in the state, and yet we don’t have the ability for folks to come and have tournaments here and stay here,” Mayor Christian Price said. “When you start to look at the employers and you start to look at the domino effect that happens, it’s a really big deal.”

From kids to adults, more and more people are playing video games whether it is a console or a cellphone.

With big brands such as ESPN airing gaming competitions known as Esports, video games are no longer something just “nerds” play. City Programs and Marketing Coordinator Matthew Reiter recognizes this growth in popularity as the perfect time to bring Esports to Maricopa.

“It’s basically competitive video game leagues, but we’re doing a recreation version of it,” Reiter said.

Two rooms in the Copper Sky activity center were modified to be one large room to fit all the tech, tables and equipment.

Aside from just purchasing gaming consoles, 12 gaming computers were custom-built for the Esports room earlier in August with certified tech students from Maricopa High School guiding a class.

Ray Nieves, owner of 911 Air Repair,  has been an enthusiastic supporter and the main sponsor for the Esports League. Nieves is ready to give the kids something he didn’t have growing up in Maricopa.

“I’ve lived here my whole life. I grew up here, and my kids are going to grow up here,” Nieves said. “This is a reason to shop local. Your money is staying here and helping things like this.”

Nieves has helped sponsor numerous causes from the City’s Fourth of July event to Maricopa Little League. Nieves showed interest in the league because of the rapid growth and domination Esports have displayed in the sports market, recalling an American Teenager who won $3 million for winning an Esports tournament for the popular online game “Fortnite” earlier this year.

Kids can expect to play their first tournament on Sept. 14. “Fortnite” will kick off the recreational season, with the official league beginning in October. Future titles for tournaments include “Super Smash Brothers,” “Rocket League” and “Overwatch.”

“We want to develop healthy relationships with video games,” Reiter explained. “We want to have a fun environment and bring back free play, for something kids enjoy.”

Additional information on dates and future tournaments can be found at https://www.facebook.com/groups/maricopaesports/

 

 

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Outdoor pickleball courts opened to the public Saturday with a brief ceremony and a bit of play at Copper Sky. Experienced players tested out the courts while Rocky Myers went over the basics for beginners. The City budgeted up to $400,000 for the six courts, which are pro standard and include a shaded walkway in between. Previously, pickleball players played on makeshift courts in half of the gymnasium inside the facility. Now play is expected to be relegated to early morning and after dark until temperatures cool.

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.”

 

The City of Maricopa and Ak-Chin had simultaneous celebrations of the Fourth of July on Thursday, which created lots of fireworks and water slides (and tremendous traffic jam afterward) as residents and visitors came out to join in the fun. Those participating in the first tailgate party at Copper Sky had positive feedback from their experience. Crowds gathered twice on the soccer fields to watch a motocross show, and there was general reveling throughout the park.

Photos by Kyle Norby

Marlins and Seals were spotted at Copper Sky Aquatics Center on Saturday during a fun meet that let the swimmers have a splash and get ready for competition mode. Boys and girls competed in the lap pool.

City of Maricopa rings in its 14th annual Great American 4th celebration at Copper Sky Regional Park on Thursday, July 4, with an incredible freestyle motocross show and first-ever tailgating feature in lieu of beer garden.

Attendees age 21+ may purchase a tailgating permit online or in-person at Copper Sky Recreation Center. The permit grants access at 1 p.m. to the “Great American Tailgate” zone where tailgaters may enjoy their own food and beverages – including grilling and libations – at their leisure. The $30 pass includes two parking spaces, permission to use pop-up tents and grills and alcohol permit to consumer beer or wine.

A heart-stopping prelude to the fireworks show starts at 7:45 p.m. with an hour-long freestyle motocross performance courtesy of famed pro rider Vince Morgan of Brigade FMX, We’re honored to have Mr. Morgan join us as we celebrate our freedom and community – he’s not only one of the original FMX riders, but also a former Maricopa resident.

Family festivities commence at 5 p.m. and include VIP Pool Party, giant water slides and inflatables, interactive DJ, various family fun and games, food trucks and vendors. The event concludes with a stunning fireworks display at 9 p.m., though guests are encouraged to arrive at least 15 minutes early.

For more details, visit the Great American 4th webpage at www.GA4th.com.

For an after-dark cool-down, Copper Sky Aquatic Center hosted the annual Dive-In Movie as part of the Movies under the Stars series of outdoor movies June 15. Families swam in the pools and played on the splash pad while watching Aquaman on the inflatable big screen.

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.”

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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A La Quinta is planned for Copper Sky commercial property.

Tuesday evening the Maricopa City Council has an extremely light agenda for their regular 7 p.m. meeting.

Only two items are listed on Tuesday’s meeting agenda and both items are on the consent agenda.

Matters to be voted on include a resolution endorsing the Pinal County Interstate 11 Coalition’s support for the Federal Highway Administration and the Arizona Department of Transportation’s Interstate 11 Tier 1 environmental impact statement and preliminary section evaluation.

The environmental impact study will take three years and studies a 280-mile corridor across the state for the proposed construction of I-11.

The other matter on their consent agenda is an amendment to a purchase and sale agreement with Maricopa Auberge for the construction of the La Quinta Hotel in the Copper Sky area.

The new agreement amends the sale of the property to Maricopa Auberge to 87,120 square feet of property south of the southeast corner of John Wayne Parkway and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. The new agreement will also amend the purchase price to $411,970, which represents $5 per square foot.

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Though construction is already underway, ground was officially broken for outdoor pickleball courts at Copper Sky  Tuesday. Maricopa City Councilmember Marvin Brown, from left, joins Vice Mayor Henry Wade, pickleball ambassador Rocky Myers, Mayor Christian Price and Councilmember Nancy Smith to turn dirt. The facility will have six pickle ball courts.

Crews start construction of pickleball courts at Copper Sky. Photo by Jim Headley

Almost a year ago, pickleball aficionados in Maricopa learned they would at last realize their dream of having dedicated courts for their sport.

The City of Maricopa set aside more than $400,000 for six pickleball courts. This week, crews began construction next to the skate park at Copper Sky.

Ironically, Rocky Myers, the face of the drive for more pickleball, was not in town when the announcement was made in May. It took him and his fellow players by surprise.

“I was flabbergasted,” he said. “You could have picked me up off the pavement.”

No Pollyanna, however, he’s keeping his expectations grounded. He has been keeping a watchful eye on the process as the City prepares to follow through on the promise of the budget.

The plans are not everything he would like to see, like the ability to host state-level tournaments.

“I’m real excited to get the courts, but it’s disappointing,” he said. “We need at least 10 courts for a tournament.”

As planned, there is room for only six courts between the skate park and the tennis courts. Each court has a 44-by-20 feet playing area inside a fenced area of 64-by-34 feet, “to execute all possible shots” including around the post, Myers said.

He started his campaign for pickleball courts three years ago as the popularity of the sport become more apparent. Up to this point, the city tried to accommodate players by restriping basketball/volleyball courts inside the multigenerational complex and allowing players to use tennis courts, which Myers said was not ideal because of the different net dimensions.

The plans include a 10-foot-wide, covered walkway between courts to create shade for benches and a place to rest. The perimeter is expected to be an eight-foot chain link fence.

Maricopa artists invited to participate

The inaugural Art for the Heart Festival is set for May 4 on the Great Lawn at Copper Sky.

If You Go
What
: Art for the Heart Festival
When: May 4, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
Where: Copper Sky Regional Park, 44345 W. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
How much: Free to attend; $60 to exhibit
Info: 520-568-8100, ext. 4136 

Hoping to fill the void left by the dissolution of Art on the Veranda and Maricopa Arts Festival, a Maricopa High School program is coordinating the community art show. Graphic Design teacher Maria Pour said they want to have as many Maricopa artists as possible participating.

The coordination is in the hands of SkillsUSA students. That program mandates they be involved in creating and running a project that benefits a nonprofit, and the usual approach is to host a clothing drive or a food drive.

“But we wanted something that relates to us, to graphics and art,” Pour said.

So, the young organizers are putting their skills to use in ways that have “real-world application,” she said. Art for the Heart invites artists from all media to display and sell their works at the festival. Pour said 75 percent of proceeds will go to the American Heart Association, the rest to cover overhead.

A 10-by-10-foot booth space is $60, and artists can bring their own tables. Painting, photography, drawing, sculpture, textiles and more are welcome from artists of all ages.

MHS had participated in Art on the Veranda, and Pour understood the challenges involved hosting a community art event. She has 15 students helping to staff Art for the Heart, from creating the plan to designing the logo or handing out water.

The additional challenge is participation, both by artists and art-lovers. Previous organizers have provided her with names of area artists, and she also seeks to reach out to Ak-Chin and Gila River artists.

Photos by Jim Headley

About 1,000 flag football players participated in the Southwest Showdown NFL Flag Football Tournament in Copper Sky Regional Park. Participants came from across Arizona and the western United States to expand their football skills.

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colorrun_12
Photos by Kyle Norby

The City of Maricopa’s annual Copa Color Run brought in participants of all ages to run or walk the color-laden event at Copper Sky Regional Park on Saturday.

 

A unique flag football tournament is coming to Maricopa April 6-7. The Southwest Showdown NFL Flag Football Tournament will take place at Copper Sky.

Greg Johnson, co-owner of Playmakers Youth Sports, the organizers of the Southwest Showdown, said he expects between 80 and 100 youth, flag football teams to attend. With an average of 10 players per team, the event will draw 800 to 1,000 players to the community plus family and friends.

“The Southwest Showdown is an NFL Flag youth national football tournament,” Johnson said. It is a qualifier for the annual national championship tournament in Orlando, Florida.

Johnson said the tournament has taken place across different locations in the Phoenix area over the past four years.

“We have grown from a very small, little, 20-team tournament into what I just described,” Johnson said.

This is the first time the tournament has come to Maricopa.

“The City of Maricopa was looking to do more things out at Copper Sky Park. They invited us out to check it out,” Johnson said. “We were like ‘Wow, what a beautiful facility.’ It is a great place to host a tournament. That is how we ended up connecting.

“Fortunately, our tournament has been able to tour through a couple different cities in the Valley because of the popularity of it. It is great for us to have an opportunity to bring events to an up-and-coming area,” he said.

NFL Flag is one of the fastest-growing sports in the nation, according to Johnson. With the current concerns about concussions in football, flag football is a growing alternative to youth football.

“More and more people are pushing families to the flag game,” Johnson said. “What you’re seeing is the evolution of a recreational sport that is popular and becoming more and more competitive. We are tracking teams from multiple states.”

Teams playing in the Arizona tournaments over the past few years have travelled from as far away as Hawaii.

“This is something that I’ve been talking about,” said Nathan Ullyot, Maricopa’s director of Community Services. “The value that we can provided, from an economic development standpoint is to attempt to bring in larger multi-day sports tourism events or tournaments. This is the first one that we set out to recruit, received interest and ultimately booked a multi-day tournament that will bring anywhere from 3,000 to 5,000 people into the city over April 6-7.”

Ullyot said the influx of that many people brings an economic impact to restaurants, gas stations and retail businesses.

“While it’s not going to fund our whole operation, what we can bring into the city is a benefit,” Ullyot said. “Our parks staff are phenomenal. They are among the best that I’ve seen.”

“We don’t just bring local flair; we bring economic impact to an area because a lot of teams come in and rent hotels, visit restaurants and all that stuff,” he said. “They will stay for the entire weekend.”

There are two divisions of tournament actions, with 5-on-5 and 7-on-7 teams.

In the 5-on-5 division, teams play in age groups of 6 and under and 14 and under. The 7-on-7 age groups are high school and under.

“The 7-on-7 is something that we’re seeing a lot of interest in. It’s not just a tournament; it’s an event,” Johnson said, adding beside the tournament games there will be food trucks on site, a mobile DJ and related field activities.

“One of our sponsors is Dick’s Sporting Goods, so we have a fastest-kid contest and a swag bag competition,” said Johnson. “Most of these teams have custom uniforms, and we do social media voting on them. There are a lot of interactive activities that we do at the tournament.”

Registration start at $400 per team, though Johnson said there are discounts available for teams from Maricopa. Admission is free.

SouthwestShowdownAZ.com