State of the City for Apache Junction held

(Video by Richard H. Dyer, Independent Newsmedia)

The opening of the Fry’s Marketplace Store and the city’s Flatiron Community Park were top accomplishments in 2017 and were featured prominently at Apache Junction’s inaugural State of the City.

About 130 people attended the event at the Apache Junction Performing Arts Center on the Apache Junction High School campus at 2525 S. Ironwood Drive. In addition to residents from Apache Junction and Gold Canyon, area officials at the Feb. 7 presentation included a Mesa councilman, Gilbert official, a Pinal County supervisor and members of the legislature.

Transportation improvements planned in the future for the region will greatly benefit Apache Junction, Mayor Jeff Serdy said at the State of the City.

“This is really going to put us on the map. We just voted in the last election 416 and 417. The highway 24 extension, which is going to meet up with the north-south interconnect and everything inside of there will inevitably be Apache Junction and we’re going to grow a lot when that happens. That will definitely make that state land be for sale and it will open up and the city will finally be able to have employment,” he said.

Proposition 416 will create a network of new roads and freeways throughout Pinal County. Proposition 417 funds these projects through a half-cent increase in the sales tax. Both were approved Nov. 7. The first mile of State Route 24, also known as the Gateway Freeway, opened in April 2014 after contractors for Arizona Department of Transportation finished constructing freeway-to-freeway traffic interchange ramps from the adjacent Loop 202 Santan Freeway to Ellsworth Road. SR24 is expected to next head east from Ellsworth Road to Ironwood Drive south of Apache Junction and north of Queen Creek. The North-South Corridor, in planning stages and not funded, is slated to be more than 40 miles between U.S. Highway 60 in Apache Junction and Interstate 10 south of Coolidge in Pinal County. There are 275 square miles of undeveloped Arizona state trust land bordered in general by Apache Junction to the north, Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport and the town of Queen Creek to the west, San Tan Valley and Florence to the south and the Tonto National Forest to the east.

Mayor Serdy hosted the State of the City event, which through a multi-media presentation spotlighted the achievements in the city over the last year and provided a look ahead. The video, put together by Matthew McNulty of the city of Apache Junction, featured comments from Mayor Serdy, Vice Mayor Chip Wilson and council members Jeff Struble, Gail Evans, Christa Rizzi, Dave Waldron and Robin Barker. Also, Bryant Powell, Apache Junction city manager; Dr. Krista Anderson, Apache Junction Unified School District superintendent; and Mike Farber, Superstition Fire and Medical District fire chief, spoke in the video. Following the video, Larry LaPrise, Apache Junction High School principal and chairman of the Apache Junction Chamber of Commerce, spoke about education and business issues.

In one statement on the video, Mayor Serdy said of the Fry’s Marketplace Store, “What’s great about it is it’s generated interest for the other in-fill lots around the city.” The Fry’s at 150 E. Old West Highway had a grand opening Friday, Oct. 27. It replaced the Fry’s at the southwest corner of Old West Highway and Idaho Road.

“I think the biggest accomplishment we had this past year was the completion of Flatiron Park,” Councilwoman Evans said in the video.

A grand opening was held April 22 at the park, 180 N. Apache Trail. The park is on 3.5 acres acquired by the city through a land exchange that included the demolition of a blighted, abandoned duplex subdivision.

“It didn’t take any tax-dollar money. It was all done on donations and a land-swap deal with a developer and it was an amazing opportunity,” Councilwoman Rizzi said in the video.

Councilman Waldron spoke about last year’s opening of the Superstition Area Water Plant. The $9 million Central Arizona Project water treatment plant constructed on Ironwood Drive just south of Baseline Road was funded through the Water Infrastructure Finance Authority of Arizona.

Councilman Struble spoke about coming up with a common vision for Apache Junction and a council retreat that was held in 2017.

The full video can be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B6zAh7Bmauc.

Mayor Serdy said the event went well and the next one will be even better.

“It went good. I think people – we’re getting good feedback on what they want for next year,” he said. “People loved the video. It was definitely the highlight. And people were left wanting more, so that’s what a performer always says – ‘leave them wanting more.’ So next year we know we’re going to add more and hopefully a lot of new developments next year.”

Mayor Serdy had hoped that people would mingle and network before the event, he said.

“Just opening the doors, everybody came in here and sat with their own people they came with,” he said.

Apache Junction resident Gil Cropper said he enjoyed the video presentation.

“The way he put it over was tremendous. It took a lot of work to do that. He probably had a lot of people working with him,” he said.

“It was nice the chamber spoke a little bit. The video was fantastic, the video was perfect. It’s nice he (Mayor Serdy) could introduce all of the local people who do so much for this community and it is bringing so many diverse groups together,” Gold Canyon resident Ed Shockley said after the event.

Apache Junction resident Michael D. Snyder took notes on a yellow pad of what was said at the State of the City.

“I’m from Ohio and I used to go to the State of the City address where I am from and I am interested in seeing how they are doing it here and I found it very interesting. I wanted to see how they ran it here and I’m impressed. Impressed with what they have done in the past year, looking forward to seeing what they are going to do next year. This is my hometown now and I’m gung-ho for the city – any city that I live in,” he said, adding that he has lived in Apache Junction for seven years. “I love AJ. I think it’s a great city. I like the direction it’s headed. I like the fact that it’s a small town. I don’t want to see it become Mesa.”

“It was wonderful. He described everything, what was happening. The city people need to know what is happening and he apprised us – he walked us through – the things that he is going to be doing and his achievements and in the future what he’s going to do. So that was very nice to hear,” Gold Canyon resident Fareed Baig, a candidate for Arizona governor, said.

“We need to be self-sustaining, get away from Mesa, get away from Gilbert. We don’t need these people. They have designs on the city. They have designs on our mountain,” Apache Junction resident George Schroeder, who is running for Pinal County justice of the peace, said of the State of the City event.

Editor Richard Dyer can be reached at rdyer@newszap.com

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