By Callan Smith, Rose Law Group Reporter Social Media Coordinator
A view from above was the theme of Maricopa Mayor Christian Price’s State of the City Address on Wednesday, complete with skydiving and videos playing throughout that brought councilmembers into the presentation. Both accomplishments and challenges were noted, along with a multifaceted vision for the city.
The importance of economic development through strategic planning and growth was a principle topic. In one of the video clips, Councilmember Vincent Manfredi noted the recruitment of businesses for the 2040 vision of Maricopa based on market conditions, target industries, local entrepreneur support. He said Big 5 Sporting Goods is expected to open next year and made mention of the new business at Maricopa Station.
The International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) tradeshow was attended by the mayor and councilmembers in 2016. Mayor Price said meetings at the events are scheduled every thirty minutes throughout the day. Unlike real estate which is all about location, Price said it’s all about, “Entice, entice, entice” to get businesses to the city. Helping residents understand their commitment at ICSC events, Price shared he walked 28,015 steps, 14.14 miles in a one day at a Las Vegas convention hall, much to the surprise of the audience.
He said the approach is relentless, “it’s like speed-dating on steroids.” Dignity Health and Banner Health were noted as part of the continuing outreach effort to bring a hospital to Maricopa. The city has prepared and presented a hotel feasibility study in an effort to bring lodging to the city, which is needed for economic growth and overflow from Harrah’s AK-Chin Casino. Price said Marriott was a possibility to fill the void, as discussions have been ongoing with the company to bring one their brands to the city.
Councilmember Nancy Smith said, “The city is looking for partnerships to leverage resources,” in a video showing an overview of Copper Sky, which the AK-Chin community pledged seven million over five years, giving a venue for sports teams such as the Arizona Rattlers, who came for spring training camp and soccer team FC Arizona, who will be holding youth camps soon.
A Maricopa state of the city address could not be complete without a discussion on the 347 overpass and widening. Price said it is a challenge. The 347 overpass is at 30 percent design completion after 10 years of planning with a goal of breaking ground October 2017, which is excellent news for residents. He named working partnerships, feasibly studies, and funding as three reasons for the length of time in planning and said the rest of the design was far easier and will be completed in the next year.
Of the 347 widening protect Price said, “We must continue to further relationships with our partners like ADOT and the Gila River Indian Community, Maricopa Association of Governments, Pinal County and Maricopa County just to name a few of the key players.” Funding would come through the Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) by means of a ballot proposal, following legislative fixes. He said that If the next session is successful then the proposition could be on the ballot in 2017
Another big issue facing the city are flood plains, which were revised by FEMA in 2014 and posing considerable challenges, such as the need for affected residents to purchase flood insurance.
A video was introduced with Councilmember Henry Wade showing the north Santa Cruz wash, “a wash that when improved will allow FEMA to redraw their flood map and remove potentially thousands of developmental home sites from almost a third of the city’s areas,” he said. Copper Sky Park, which already serves as a flood control basin, will get many existing homes out of the flood plain. The city has received grant funding, federal funding and works with US Core of Engineers to help with the issue.
Mayor Price also outlined the city’s proposal to create a single regional flood control agency much like Maricopa County, creating strategic county- wide planning and efficiency to address flooding problems along with providing an improvement budget and less bureaucracy.
Of special interest is the city’s implementation of SMARTGov through its online portal, cutting permit issuance from 113 days down to six, which received applause from the audience. “Since we’ve implemented SMARTGov we have seen an increase in new single-family home permits by 36 percent. 100 percent of our plans are electronically reviewed. A thousand plus business licenses have been uploaded, and this will help automate the business license renewal process,” Price said.
Councilmember Peggy Chapados talked further on SMARTGov, via video, as she did a walkthrough showing the lack of paper plans and a fully electronic system. Users can submit review revise plans as well as schedule inspections and attain and pay for permits. All inspections are now uploaded real time to the system. Permits issued 50 to 70 percent faster and she said cities are now calling Maricopa to ask how to implement such a system.
Price brought the attention of the audience to Prop 415, the Maricopa City Plan, on the ballot in November. Vice Mayor Marvin L. Brown said the plan would replace the one adopted in 2006, which is a framework for future plans and decision making. Residents can get further information at www.planningmaricopa.com.
Another development noted was the Copper Sky Police Substation that opened in 2016, housing 911 services, which handles more than six thousand calls a month. Councilmember Richard Kimball, took the audience into the building and outside via video showing the 5.6-acre development that is designed to expand. Along with that, the city now has a maintenance center and communications towers, supporting continued growth. And who knew Maricopa had 534 miles of paved roads, as the Pu
blic Works Department was thanked for its time and effort.
To conclude, the mayor posed (photo), smiled broadly, his phone held high to show him with audience members for Maricopa’s first State of the City selfie.