Town hall meeting held in San Manuel: plans and actions for improving sustainability for town initiated

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Around 100 residents attended a Town Hall planning meeting.

  On Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2019, a Town Hall meeting was held at the Mammoth-San Manuel Community School auditorium. Around 100 San Manuel residents attended the meeting, organized by Local First Arizona Foundation Rural Development Council and the San Manuel Community Action Team. It is the first of a number of town hall meetings planned for the community. 

  The meeting was held to discuss the Arizona Rural Development Council Community Activation project and to receive input from the community about what they feel is needed and what they would like to see happen in San Manuel. The Council has received funding to begin a Community Activation Plan for San Manuel. The first phase of the plan is community input and engagement. Other parts of the Activation Plan include Capacity Building – Consultation to develop centralized non-profit organization; Marketing – Program and brand development; Waste and Beautification – Creating a community initiative around waste.

  The Project Team Panel was made up of Liza Noland and Lauren Haggerty from the Arizona Rural Development Council; Aaron Cooper from the International Sonoran Desert Alliance in Ajo; Jill Bernstein from Keep Arizona Beautiful; and Travis Barnum from the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality. Questions were asked by the panel and they received input from the audience. 

  The Local First Arizona Foundation has provided a summary of the Town Hall meeting.

  The panel with input from the audience identified some of the positives of living in San Manuel. These were listed as SOURCES of COMMUNITY PRIDE: its people, FFA Program, peaceful & quiet, views, affordability, infrastructure (roads, library, airport, fire department, ambulance service, health center, etc.).

  Listed as COMMUNITY CHALLENGES were: access to healthy, local foods; alderman representation; lack of activities for all ages (abandoned pool, pickle ball courts and parks); utility prices and quality (such as broadband, water); difficulty finding jobs; cemetery maintenance; police presence; abandoned buildings and schools; inadequate street lighting; scarcity of local news; Tri-Community transportation.  

  At the first Community Stakeholder meeting held in July 2019, three primary areas of focus were identified.  These areas of focus or Pillars, were then discussed in more detail at the Town Hall meeting, with a goal of prioritizing the Pillars and better defining the work/projects to be included in these Pillars. These Pillars and the votes of the attendees prioritizing the work/projects are summarized below:

Pillar 1: INFRASTRUCTURE

WHY IT MATTERS: San Manuel’s economic vibrancy and livability rely on a robust infrastructure.

WHAT SUCCESS LOOKS LIKE: A community with access to safe and reliable energy, water, transportation, housing, and communications built to meet future demand.

PRIORITIES IDENTIFIED: 

Formulation of a Centralized Non-Profit: 48 votes   

Affordable Trash/Recycling Services: 36 votes

Financial Services: 15 votes

Broadband (overall service) 7 votes

Affordable Housing: 2 votes

GOAL: DEVELOP CENTRALIZED NON-PROFIT ORGANIZATION TO ENSURE THAT COMMUNITY SERVICES AND PROGRAMS ARE ACCESSIBLE TO SAN MANUEL RESIDENTS.

Pillar 2: HEALTH & WELL-BEING

WHAT SUCCESS LOOKS LIKE: San Manuel residents enjoy good health, live in a healthy community, and have access to affordable health care and wellness resources.

PRIORITIES IDENTIFIED:

Reduced Dumping/Clean Community: 42 votes

Access to Healthy, Local Foods: 35 votes

Gym, Walking Paths, Physical Activities: 12 votes

Safe Neighborhoods & Public Spaces: 10 votes

Access to Healthcare: 3 votes

GOAL: ADDRESS WASTE & BEAUTIFICATION CHALLENGES IN SAN MANUEL AND INCREASE ACCESS TO HEALTHY FOOD

Pillar 3: COMMUNITY CONNECTION

WHY IT MATTERS: Communities are our home, where we connect to others, and are at the center of collective decision-making.

WHAT SUCCESS LOOKS LIKE: The San Manuel community comes together to celebrate their community, connect with one another and move the needle towards prosperity and growth for all community members.

PRIORITIES IDENTIFIED: 

Events: 30 votes * Focusing on this brings together the other three below

Volunteerism: 25 votes

Engaged Youth: 24 votes

Connection to Neighbors: 20 votes

GOAL: IDENTIFY PROGRAMMING AND RESOURCES THAT WILL PROVIDE OPPORTUNITIES FOR THE COMMUNITY TO ENGAGE WITH ONE ANOTHER AND BUILD PRIDE & CONNECTION TO SAN MANUEL.

NEXT STEPS:

  As the AZ Rural Development Council and its partners continue to facilitate the process, there are several important overarching priorities that will be recognized: identifying champions, community engagement, and transparency.

  1. Identifying Champions: Committees will be created for each Pillar (Infrastructure, Health and Community Connection) to help identify and scope out Pillar projects and priorities.   

*If you have an interest in a particular Committee/Pillar, please sign up for information on next steps.

2.   Community Engagement Emails were gathered at the Community Town Hall, which will be used to communicate Next Steps and other news as it relates to the San Manuel Community Activation project. Copper Town Association will also help distribute information through Facebook.

3.  Transparency: It is our goal to be as transparent and accessible to the community as possible throughout this project. Project leads Liza Noland and Lauren Haggerty with the AZ Rural Development Council can be reached any time at azrdc@localfirst.com or 480-550-0016.

QUESTIONS & AREAS OF FOCUS FOR FUTURE MEETINGS

Beautification/Waste Management

*  Who paid for gas tanks to be removed from bank owned properties?

*  Why can’t we get the services that used to be here as far as waste management, as is paid for by the taxpayers? That was provided through the County?

*  How do we fund support for landscape and clean up for the whole community?

*  Cleaning up vacant properties.

Municipal Concerns

*   Parking on the streets: they are not wide enough to park two cars and let traffic through.

*  Since we are an unincorporated rural area, what is wrong with farm animals like chickens being in town on personal properties?

*  Water

*  Getting local news and advertising on TV – Tucson instead of Phoenix.

Property Management

*   Banks pay for winterization (?) of empty houses in some towns – why not here?

*  Could the school become assisted living?

*  Rehabilitating the Golf Course?

*  Coordinate with youth organizations such as Boys/Girls club or YMCA to partner on a project with the swimming pool/basketball courts/tennis courts to help provide activities for youth to elderly – could help drive out drug issue.     

John Hernandez (744 Posts)

John Hernandez lives in Oracle. He is retired and enjoys writing and traveling. He is active in the Oracle Historical Society. He covers numerous public events, researches historical features and writes business/artist profiles.


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