Monday, October 21, 2013

New City Hall formally dedicated on City's tenth birthday

The City of Maricopa celebrated its tenth birthday in style Tuesday night by formally dedicating their new 45,000 square-foot City Hall and Council Chambers.  The event was attended by not only current City staff and officials, but many familiar faces from the past returned to celebrate as well.

The evening started off with a sunset ceremony which included the raising of the United States and Arizona flags for the first time at City Hall (with some "technical difficulties"), comments from Maricopa Mayor Christian Price, City Manager Trisha Sorensen, Development Services Director Bob Goodhue, and officials from the architects and contractor of the facility, and finally the ribbon-cutting!

The second part of the night was the dedication of the new City Council Chambers.

Vice-Mayor Edward Farrell, a fourth-generation Maricopan, took the microphone first, recalling the events leading up to Maricopa's incorporation.

In 1986, Farrell was all of 19 years-old when Mike Ingram and Marty Ortman from El Dorado Holdings walked into his family's restaurant, Headquarters Cafe and expressed their vision of the small farming community of approximately 1000 residents ultimately becoming a city.

Ingram and Ortman soon brought forward a plan to turn two-lane Maricopa Road into a four-lane divided highway.  The price tag for the project was $64 million dollars, of which El Dorado would contribute $54 million.  The community would need to raise the remaining $10 million.  A road improvement district was formed and the issue was put to a vote in 1989, passing by a mere 25 votes!  "Without those 25 votes, Harrah's Ak-Chin Casino wouldn't have happened.... None of this would've happened," Farrell said.  "Maricopa would still be the same small community it was back then."

With the new highway in place, the real estate boom of the new millennium brought about the development of golf course community Rancho El Dorado.  With plans for other communities in the works, Farrell and other area residents felt the community needed a say in the town's growth.  An incorporation committee was formed and ultimately Maricopa officially became Arizona's 88th municipality on October 15th, 2003.

Farrell also recalled previous incarnations of City Hall, the first a double-wide trailer on John Wayne Parkway, next to the original fire station.  The double-wide was soon joined by a single-wide which housed the City's planning department.  The two trailers were joined by a wooden deck.

As the growing  City was quickly running out of room, a newer interim City Hall was setup a few blocks to the west.  This consisted of a 24-section modular building purchased from the Arizona Department of Transportation.

With no permanent facility, the City Council made use of numerous local venues to host their meetings, including the Maricopa High School cafeteria, the original Maricopa Unified School District boardroom at the high school, the Maricopa Wells Middle School Library, and the First Baptist Church of Maricopa.  Use of the church only lasted about three months as it drew the ire of a number of atheist groups who felt it inappropriate for a government body to meet in a religious facility.

In 2007, the City Council moved to the new Global Water Center, using their community room until the Maricopa Unified School District completed their new administration facility in 2010.  MUSD's current board room has been the Council's home since.

After Farrell's reminiscing, each member of the current City Council, Marvin Brown, Julia Gusse, Bridger Kimball, Leon Potter, and Peggy Chapados, took turns speaking to the audience.  Past mayors and members of the Council, who were in attendance, were also recognized, including former Mayor Kelly Anderson, former Mayor and current Pinal County Supervisor Anthony Smith, and former Councilmembers Joseph Estes, Will Dunn, Phyllis Von Fleckinger, and Dallas Paulsen.

Previous City officials in attendance were also recognized, including former City Manager Brenda Fischer (now City Manager of Glendale), original City Manager Rick Buss (now Town Manager of Gila Bend), and former Assistant City Manager Danielle Casey (now Economic Director for the City of Scottsdale).

After the speeches, came a spiritual blessing and song from Joseph Enos of the Tohono O'odham Nation.  Enos said that he felt "great energy" from the new building.

Then it was time for the Mayor and Council to take their seats on the dais for the first time, followed by more remarks from Mayor Price.

Elected officials from around the state came to witness the historic event, including State Speaker of the House Andy Tobin, Senators Barbara McGuire, and Al Melvin, Representatives Steve Smith, Adam Kwasman, Frank Pratt and T.J. Shope, Pinal County Supervisor Anthony Smith, Pinal County Attorney Lando Voyles, Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu, Mayor John Lewis of Gilbert, Mayor Joseph Nagey of Eloy, Mayor Mark Mitchell of Tempe, Mayor Bob Jackson of Casa Grande, Mayor Tom Rankin of Florence, and Ak-Chin Tribal Council Chairman Louis Manuel Jr.

Price repeatedly expressed his pride in the new facility.  "This City Hall really does speak to the fact that we've arrived and that we're here to stay!", Price stated.

(Photos: Howard Waggner/Maricopa Community News - Video: City of Maricopa)

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