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Concept drawing of the new Maricopa Public Library. Hidell and Associates Architects

A new city library and an apartment complex are scheduled to come before the Maricopa Planning and Zoning Committee this week.

A revised site plan for Englewood Development Company’s 120-unit apartment complex includes additional parking. That issue caused the P&Z Committee to table a previous site-plan request. The committee meets Monday at 6 p.m. to determine if it will recommend approval of the plan to city council.

At the same meeting, committee members will view a site plan for a new public library to be built south of City Hall.

Initially, Mountain Trace Development, representing Englewood, had asked to reduce the required number of parking spaces at the Oasis at the Wells apartment complex from 251 to 180, including 120 covered spaces. After a contentious meeting, developers added 26 spaces within the complex parking lot by reduced the number of landscaping islands. They added 40 more spaces with an overflow area agreed to by city staff and five on-street spaces along the future Shea Way.

The new report also includes new comparison data, another issue that had raised concerns at the previous meeting.

The staff report by P&Z Manager Rodolfo Lopez states the new information still places Maricopa’s parking ratio of 1.59 is still higher than average in comparably sized communities in the Valley. As a result, staff plans to bring a proposal to the committee next year to reduce the city’s on-site parking requirements.

When met with comments against subsidized or “low-income” housing, staff also included the following information regarding affordable housing, which states 30% of Maricopa households currently meet the definition.

The proposal for overflow parking along a strip between Walmart and Oasis at the Wells would bring available parking spots to 251.

The library site plan is coming to the P&Z for the first time. Architects for the 27,000-square-foot building are Hidell and Associates, based in Carrollton, Texas.

The Phase 1 plan uses 2.19 acres of the available 4.75 lot. Thirty-six percent of the site will be landscaping. The plan also includes 136 new parking spaces, exceeding the required minimum of 128. The library site is south of the City Hall parking lot and southwest of Maricopa Police Department. It will be accessible from Civic Center Plaza and from Bowlin Road.

Among 19 conditions for approval is a stipulation regarding the potential of finding human remains at the work site because remains and artifacts hundreds of years old have been found in the “Maricopa area.” The site near the northeast corner of White and Parker Road and Bowlin Road has never been excavated.

“In the event that human remains and/or artifacts are discovered during construction, Ak-Chin has requested that the developers stop immediately and contact the Ak-Chin Cultural Resources Office before any further construction continues.”

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Photos by Kyle Norby

Friends of the Maricopa Public Library hosted its annual fall book sale in the library parking lot Saturday. The book sale helps fund library programs and the nonprofit’s activities to provide support of the library. While there were vendors and live music, the stacks of books that had been cycled out of inventory were the main attraction, and readers were able to purchase by the bag or by the box.

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Photos by Kyle Norby

James Reid brought his juggling act back to Maricopa Public Library Thursday, also entertaining children with yo-yo tricks. The presentation was part of the library’s annual Summer Reading Program.

The proposed new library would be triple the size of the current library. Photo by Jim Headley

Tuesday evening, citizens of Maricopa were allowed a first look at the city’s new library plan.

“Our existing residents won’t pay a dime; they have paid enough.” – Ricky Horst, city manager

Architects, city officials and staff gathered in the city council chambers to unveil conceptual drawings of the new library that is three-and-a-half times as large as the present library.

The crowd attending the informal affair was large and very interested in the project.

The proposed library will be 27,000 square feet in size but could also be expanded in the future. The goal is the new library could be 40,000 to 45,000 square feet after the second phase of construction is completed.

Tuesday evening the drawings presented to the public were simply a representation of what a new library could look like. Final design work is still being completed.

City manager Rick Horst said the goal is to start construction of the new library by January 2020 and complete the building by the end of the year. The plan is to convert the present library into a senior center as well as a veterans center and public meeting space.

The present veterans center would then be converted into a museum for the Maricopa Historical Society.

Horst was on hand Tuesday night showing citizens what will become of the current library.

“We are loosely trying to show how we are going to have some dedicated space for our seniors,” Horst said, “dedicated space for our veterans and, in this space in the middle, they will be able to free-flow into the area when they need it. It is extra room for events or dinners. Otherwise, this will be a community space where we can have an art show, an art gallery and music. This center section will seat about 350 people.”

Photo by Jim Headley

Horst said redesigning the present library into a community facility will also free up the veterans center for the historical society.

“We are checking a lot of boxes with what we’re doing tonight,” he said, adding he’s told the seniors that the city would find a smart solution for a senior center, and this is it.

“It is very impressive. It will be great for the community.” — Miki Juarez, new resident

Horst said the construction of the proposed library at the city center complex will be an opportunity to create another iconic building for the city, one as important as city hall.

“It re-establishes what the new library is all about,” Horst said. “It’s not just about stacks of books. It’s about people, innovation, opportunity and creativity… We will be able to meet our needs for years to come.”

The proposed library is expected to cost about $8.5 million but no taxes will be increased to pay for it.

“The good news is, we’re not going to have to borrow money, and there will be no debt,” Horst said, adding the city has the money in the bank. “We are just being prudent about how we’re spending money. Our developers will pay some of it through impact fees coming from new development. Our existing residents won’t pay a dime; they have paid enough.”

One person pushing for the new library has been Mayor Christian Price.

“I am very excited about the potential of a new library here in the City of Maricopa,” Price said. “I have lived here for 16 years. I have small children and we go to the library all the time. The old library was too small the day it was opened. We’re trying not to make that same mistake, but, at the same time, we’re trying to stay within our budget. This is a huge win for the City of Maricopa.”

Price said in city government you must wait for projects to align. He said everything has come together for the construction of the new city library.

“We were able to redo funds internally,” Price said. “We were able to gather monies that were coming in for library-type purposes. Now the stars have aligned, and we can jump. We have to strike when the iron is hot. We weren’t there last year. We weren’t there five years ago. I don’t know that we would be there six years from now, but we are there now. It is time to take that step.”

Photo by Jim Headley

Vice Mayor Henry Wade was on hand talking to citizens about the proposed library.

“I am happy about it – very much so,” Wade said. “We will have a lot of room that we need, and we will have other uses for it. Rooms where we can support the youth, support seniors and other organizations. I think it’s great. This is another one of those times where we can say we are proud of Maricopa. This will take us to another level.”

Kazi Haque, Maricopa’s assistant director of development services, has had his eye on the proposed new library for quite some time as one of the city’s top planning officials.

“I think this is a great move for the City of Maricopa,” Haque said. “I feel like this is something that people have been waiting for a long time. This is our first step of achieving that goal that has been identified in the Vision 2040 plan, and also in our general plan.”

Haque said in just 15 years, Maricopa has really come a long way. Haque joined the city staff in 2005.

“I am very happy and proud. I think the architect did a good job and it reflects some of the ideas and thoughts people in Maricopa wanted,” Haque said. “It’s not only a library but it is a multipurpose area for people to come and do a lot of things.”

Joan Koczor is a leading senior advocate in Maricopa and she was in attendance Tuesday evening to look at the new plans for the library and repurposing the present library for seniors.

“It is very reminiscent of the facility that’s in Florence. I understand they were the same architect,” said Koczor. “It will be a very nice option for the seniors to have a place, a more permanent place.”

Koczor said the new library location was originally supposed to be the Maricopa Cultural Center.

The proposed library was a hit for both new and longer-term Maricopa residents.

“I think it’s great,” said Joan Garrett, a member of Friends of the Library and Historical Society. “The fact that there is room to expand, which we have never been able to do before. We are growing.”

Even someone new to the community liked what they saw Tuesday night.

“It is very impressive. It will be great for the community,” said Miki Juarez, a new resident. “We just moved here from California. We just retired. We love this city and we’re very excited to see the new library.”

Photo by Jim Headley 

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The Maricopa Public Library will be closed April 17 to 21 to upgrade their check out system.

The library will reopen on Monday, April 22.

“We will be upgrading our checkout and security system,” said Doug Fortunato, library assistant. “What we are switching over to is an RFID system. The hope is that will increase both the speed that we can check in and check out items as well as the security of the items.”

He said that if someone forgets to check out an item, the library will still know that it has left the building. The library will also know if an unchecked item happens to return to the building.

“That way we are not spending time looking for something that is not here,” he said. “It requires adding a tag to every single item in here. We have almost 50,000 items that need to be tagged.”

He said it will take every bit of the four days the library will be closed to tag each item.

“We probably will come close. We should get the lion’s share of it completed,” he said.

The library has a total of 16 to 17 full and part time employees who will be working on the project.

The new system will allow people to check in and out multiple items in a stack right away instead of scanning each one at a time. Stack of 10-12 items can be scanned in a second when they are laid on an electronic mat.

Friends of the Maricopa Public Library are hosting the annual Spring Used Book Sale in the parking lot.

March 16 there will be a large variety of books for all ages, DVDs, CDs, audio books, large-print books, box sets and more. Proceeds help Friends, a nonprofit organization, support the library’s free programs.

Buy books by the plastic bag, paper bag or box.

Plastic Bag of Books:
Hardcover $6
Paperback $3
Mixed $4

Paper Bag of Books:
Hardcover $8
Paperback $5
Mixed $6

Box of Books:
Hardcover $10
Paperback $7
Mixed $8

DVDs, CDs and audiobooks are 5/$3 and 10/$5. A single hardcover is $1.50, and a paperback is 75 cents.

Also scheduled to be on hand are the Blue Star Mothers of Maricopa, who will be collecting donations for care packages to deployed service members, F.O.R. Maricopa, Maricopa Master Gardeners, Girl Scouts, Pet Social Worker/Tails of Hope with furry friends, and Library Initiative for Teens (LIFT).

The Beignet and Coffee Shack will also be available with refreshments.

This story appears in the March issue of InMaricopa.

The opening step toward a new Maricopa Public Library was taken Tuesday at the regular meeting of the city council.

Maricopa City Council approved a $830,530 contract with Hidell Associates Architects, Inc., of Carrollton, Texas, for design and construction administration services to build the new library facility. Hidell Associates Architects’ sole job is designing libraries around the nation.

The council approved the beginning of a new city library with a unanimous vote.

“The current library facility is too small and somewhat outdated,” said City Manager Rick Horst. “The city has anticipated, for a long time, the opportunity to create a new facility to this city.”

Horst said the Arizona Legislature adopted new debt fee rules in 2014. Under those rules changes it is now required that the city expend these funds for a library prior to the end of 2019 or they lose them. The funds could only be used toward a library project, according to Horst.

“We should do more with the architect design, construction and guidance, so that we do not risk losing these funds,” Hosrt told the council.

The library project being proposed Tuesday was what Horst called the first phase of the library. He said the proposed building would be about 25,000 square feet in size when phase one is completed. It will double in size when phase two is implemented.

“We feel, as a staff, that we can do this without any tax increases to our constituents,” he said. “We feel very comfortable that we can do this without any debt to the city. Ultimately, 25,000 square feet will not be enough, so we are planning space-wise for an additional 25,000 square feet.”

Horst said the city will likely also add branch libraries around the community.

There will be at least two public meetings in March and April where citizens can have input into the library’s design. The dates of the meetings will be announced soon, he said.

The location of the library has been planned to be part of the 140-acre city center complex and built just south of city hall. The city center complex is the geographical center of the City of Maricopa boundaries.

Horst said the new library will likely cost about $8 million to build but final costs, after furnishings and technology are installed, will be more in the $10 million range.

Funding for the $800,000 contract awarded to Hidell Associates Architects on Tuesday is paid from the city’s Library DIF1 ORG-32133135 funds.

Horst said the current library location on Smith-Enke Road will likely be turned into use by senior citizens, veterans, arts and performing art presentations, musical performances, public meetings and rentals for special events. He said that the space should accommodating between 200 and 250 performances annually.

The current Maricopa Veterans Center, next to the new Heritage Park on the Maricopa/Casa Grande Highway, could be turned over to the Historical Society for a museum next to the Zephyr rail car, according to Horst.


In other matters Tuesday evening:

The council voted to keep its regular meetings at 7 p.m. and mostly eliminate the work sessions they have been having at 6 p.m. before the regular meetings. The work sessions, if needed, will be part of the regular meetings or called as a special meeting. The start time of the regular meetings can also be adjusted with the declaration of a special meeting in the event of a lengthy agenda.

The council approved the sale of land to Maricopa Auberge LLC in the Copper Sky Commercial district. The location will allow Maricopa Auberge to build an approximately 90-room business class LaQuinta Hotel at the site. The 87,120 square foot site is being sold to Maricopa Auberge for $435,600.

The council approved the elimination of the Non-Profit Funding Evaluation Committee, the Veteran Affairs Committee and eliminating the Youth Internship Program Advisory Committee. The changes are requested as the three committees are no longer necessary or functional.

The current library building was constructed in 2009.

Maricopa City Council will consider hiring an architect to design a new public library at tonight’s city council meeting.

The measure to establish a new library begins with a $830,530 contract with Hidell Associates Architects, Inc., of Carrollton, Texas, for design and construction administration services for the new library facility. Funding to pay the contract is already secured.

The matter is currently on the Council’s consent agenda but may be moved into the regular agenda items, if one of the council members seeks to discuss the awarding of a more than $800,000 contract in more detail.

According to the meeting consent agenda, “The Mayor and City Council shall discuss and possibly take action to create a project in the Capital Improvement Program (CIP) by drawing on existing capacity in the CIP, and to approve the Design Consultant Contract with Hidell Associates Architects, Inc.”

Funding for the project includes an amount not to exceed $722,220.00 plus a City Manager’s allowance of $108,300 (equal to 15 percent), for a total amount not to exceed $830,530.

Also on the agenda is the possible amendment of the times the council meets to 6 or 6:30  p.m. or to remain with their regular 7 p.m. meeting times.

The council will also discuss the elimination of the Non-Profit Funding Evaluation Committee, the Veteran Affairs Committee and eliminating the Youth Internship Program Advisory Committee. The changes are requested as the three committees are no longer necessary or functional.

The library moved several times in its long history. Before the current library was built in 2009, it was housed in what is now the Maricopa Veterans Center.

William Prentice chats with an interpreter during a demonstration call. Photo by Michelle Chance


Maricopa Resident William “Wilz” Prentice is one of an estimated 5,000 people living in Maricopa who are deaf or hard of hearing.

Prentice, who was born deaf, demonstrated Monday morning new technology that could revolutionize telecommunication for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing community in the city.

The service was launched by the Maricopa Public Library Aug. 20 and is free to the public.

The new VideoPhone program aims to make communication services for those who use American Sign Language more accessible.

“This makes it a lot easier, a lot faster to communicate than the old TTY system,” Prentice said through an interpreter.

Considered outdated, TTY technology utilized phone and text through an interpreter to communicate. The service was complicated and required its users to have regular access to the equipment.

The new VideoPhone services at the library allow anyone to place video calls through their smart phone or on the library’s computer outfitted with a webcam to anyone in the country.

An interpreter, appearing by video, is available on the other line for calls placed to someone who does not use ASL.

Cindy Price is fluent in ASL and assisted in interpreting conversations during demonstrations Monday.

Price said the free VideoPhone service is one less barrier for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing community.

“Having access at the library is great because if they really need to communicate, they can come here. It’s free. They don’t have to have additional resources so it’s actually a great equalizer for them,” Price said.

Fred Greenspan, who is hard of hearing, spearheaded the effort to bring VideoPhone services to Maricopa.

Greenspan believes the new program will help those who don’t have videophone ability on their cell phones and those hunting for a job.

“A person who is deaf can do anything,” Greenspan said.

An advocate for the Deaf community, Greenspan directed local politicians to try the technology themselves, including Congressman Tom O’Halleran, Pinal County Attorney Kent Volkmer and Mayor Christian Price.

Calls were placed to O’Halleran’s office in Washington, D.C., the Kansas Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing in Topeka, and others.

Volkmer and Casa Grande Public Library Manager Amber Kent expressed interest in implementing the service throughout Pinal County. The program is paid for by taxes on phone bills.

The presentation, the first of its kind locally, was educational for many.

“We are one of the few in the county that has this, and I learned a lot today,” said Mayor Price. “It’s revelatory. It really is.”

System instruction is available during Library hours: Monday-Thursday 9 a.m.-7 p.m. and Friday-Saturday 9 a.m.-6 p.m.

The Maricopa Public Library in Arizona launches VideoPhone technology and service for use by deaf and hard of hearing community members who use ASL (American Sign Language) to communicate. Deaf patrons who lack smart phones or high-speed Internet at home can access the Video Relay System (VRS) to call just about anyone instead of relying on family members, friends or older and antiquated TTY technology.

When: Aug. 20, 9 a.m.
Where: Maricopa Public Library, 41600 W. Smith-Enke Road
Who: Everyone invited

The idea to have this free service available to those who lack auditory and vocal acuity and who use ASL (American Sign Language), was initiated and coordinated by Fred Greenspan President of Tylin Promotions based in the City of Maricopa. Greenspan is the developer of the nationally given deaf sensitivity training class entitled “I Never Gave THAT A Thought!” at www.DeafSensitivityTraining.com.

“It all began in the City of Maricopa, Arizona. It is a pleasure to assist members of society who have a hearing loss,” Greenspan said.

Local resident William Prentice, who is Deaf, will place the first official call to the White House. The next calls will be to Robert Cooper, Executive Director of the Kansas Commission for the Deaf & Hard of Hearing in Topeka followed by calls made and received by Mayor Christian Price, his wife Cindy who signs, Arizona Congressman Tom O’Halleran, and Fred Greenspan who also signs.

The VideoPhone, or VP as it is commonly called in the Deaf community, was granted to the library from Sorenson Communications and is very easy to use. The “phone” can be used in two languages, English and Spanish, to users who are either deaf, or hard of hearing in a variety of different ways. When connecting a deaf user to a hearing user or business, there is an American Sign Language interpreter available for the calls.

“We are thrilled,” Library Manager Erik Surber said. “This is such a great opportunity for the patrons and the community.”

Though Arizona Council for the Blind and Visually Impaired, Valley Center of the Deaf, Burton Barr Central Library, Phoenix Deaf Community Center, and Phoenix College all have videophone (VP) services, the Maricopa Public Library is the first library in Arizona outside the Phoenix Metropolitan area to have VP capability that we are aware of. VP calls are paid for with monies collected from communications taxes on phone bills, thus enabling those calls to be fee-free for uses.

Surber said he anticipates several Deaf and hard of hearing individuals from Maricopa to use the service. An estimated 4,600 Deaf or hard-of-hearing individuals reside in or around the City of Maricopa.

Instructions for use of the system are available during Library hours, 9 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and Friday and Saturday 9 a.m.-6 p.m.

General VP connectivity across the United States is just like that of a standard phone line, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and available on all holidays.

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Photo by Michelle Chance

A warm afternoon couldn’t keep cold-blooded creatures from greeting children at the Maricopa Public Library Thursday.

A presentation by Radical Reptile Fun featured a Burmese python, tortoise and an argus monitor lizard. Afterward, children lined up to pet the scaly animals. The event was part of the library’s Summer Reading Program.

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Photo courtesy Velly C

Under the direction of artist Red Rohall, Maricopa teens designed, prepared and printed T-shirts at a Summer Reading Program event at Maricopa Public Library June 14.

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Photo by Michelle Chance

The Maricopa Public Library experimented with “Mad Science” Thursday afternoon. Children experienced interactive demonstrations with an educational element. One concoction mixed water, food coloring, dry ice and soap to create a brew of bubbles the kids could see and feel.

The event was part of the library’s Summer Reading Program.

Craig Davis brought his magic show to Maricopa Public Library for the Summer Reading Program. Photo by Michelle Chance

It was a spell-bound mixture of risk, trickery and magic inside the Maricopa Public Library Monday morning.

The Craig Davis Magic Show performed for families as part of the library’s Summer Reading program. Davis – who is based in the valley – entertained children with a variety of illusions including a juggling exercise, card tricks and the vanishing of a pet bird.

Future library events can be found on InMaricopa’s calendar.

Craig Davis' magic and juggling show is part of the entertainment for this year's Summer Reading Program. Submitted photo

Maricopa Public Library wants to reach new heights with its Summer Reading Program.

The annual event is off and running, with programming for ages 0 to 17. With each book participants read, they will be building skyscrapers. The theme this year is “Build a Better World.”

Library Manager Erik Surber said those who read 400 minutes during the program, which runs through July 14, will build the Empire State Building. Reading 800 minutes will build the Willis Tower (formerly Sears). And 1,200 minutes will equal Burj Khalifa.

Summer Reading Events
June 8 at 2 p.m. Mad Science Fire and Ice Show
June 5 at  10 a.m. Craig Davis Magic and Juggling Show
June 12 at 10 a.m. Chuck Field, Comedy Ventriloquist
June 14 at 5:30 p.m. Red Rohall T-Shirt Designs for Teens
June 15 at 2 p.m. Radical Reptiles
June 19 at 10 a.m. Fairytale Princesses
June 22 at 20 p.m. Step Up Clydesdale
June 26 at 10 a.m. Great Arizona Puppet Theatre
June 28 at 5:30 p.m. Anime for Teens
June 29 at 2 p.m. Jungle Jill Animal Encounters
July 8 at 9 a.m. Guided LEGO Build
July 10 at 10 a.m. Ronald McDonald
July 13 at 2 p.m. Magic with the Amazing Kaden

“They can choose whatever challenge they think they’re up to,” Surber said. “If they are completed by July 14, they can win prizes.”

Those include passes to UltraStar and Arizona State Parks.

He said if toddlers are read to or if children listen to audio books, it all counts. Older siblings reading to younger siblings counts for both.

“It’s something to do over the summer, and they learn to set goals and pace themselves,” Surber said.

The program also prevents the “summer slide” in learning so children don’t fall months behind during vacation. Last year, 1,500 participated.

The Summer Reading Program is not just about reading. It is chock-full of entertainment and hands-on fun.

Events in June include a fire-and-ice science show, a magic show, a ventriloquist, live animals, puppet theater, fairytale princesses and, for the teens, T-shirt designing and anime. A hallmark event coming in July is the Cactus Brick LEGO build to match the theme.


This story appears in the June issue of InMaricopa.

Among the upgrades going into place at Maricopa Public Library next week are new locks and security cameras.

By Mason Callejas

The Maricopa Public Library is aiming to modernize its facilities as part of a renovation project set to take place next week.

The building at 41600 W. Smith Enke Road will be closed to the public Oct. 17-22 to undergo a laundry list of subtle upgrades designed to  not only beautify the facility but to enhance efficiency and increase productivity amongst the libraries visitors.

Upgrades to the computer systems and an expansion of wifi connectivity will allow patrons to better utilize existing information technologies. To further productivity the library also plans to experiment with 15-minute hassle free computer access which will allow non-members to use computers and printers at no cost for brief periods of time.

New locks will be installed on main entry doors and security cameras will also be added during the renovations.

“There hasn’t been any threat to call for increased security,” Library Manager Erik Surber said, but with other upgrades taking place he thinks it’s as good a time as any to make the changes.

As part of the project, the library will also receive a small facelift. New LED overhead lighting will replace the current fluorescent system, making the building more energy efficient. The bathrooms will get hot water for the sinks as well as new partitions in the stalls and a few new coats of paint.

Surber knows the changes will be subtle. Nonetheless, he is still “hopeful that people will notice.”

During the down time employees will take advantage of the patron-free environment and do a fall cleaning of their book catalog. Surber feels though it’s not yet time for an official audit, it will be a good time to clean up the shelves.

“We’ll be weaning old, unnecessary books,” Surber said. “It’s not a full inventory, more like a skimming.”

There will be no holds or items due that week, and no charges will be added to items not returned. However, returns can still be made via the night-time drop-off slot, as items that are passed due prior to the library’s temporary closing are still subject to standard fees.