What a busy year 2021 has been – it is hard to believe that half of the year has passed! It’s been a while since I have written a Mayor’s Minute column, and I wanted to take a minute to update our residents on a broad range of important projects and plans.
Telegraph Fire: The Telegraph Fire was a very threatening and destructive fire, not only for Superior, but for our entire region. The fire hurt our local businesses, put our residents in harm’s way, and destroyed the natural areas that we all enjoy. We have learned that while the fire was destructive, the soil was not scorched, and we therefore are optimistic that we will begin seeing new growth in the burn scar. The fact that the soil was not scorched has also helped to decrease effects of flooding. We are thankful for the monsoon storms that have come our way, and we are working with our partners Boyce Thompson Arboretum, Wild Arizona, Tonto National Forest and Legends of Superior Trails to work on restoration plans. We also are thankful that the majority of the forest and trails south of Highway 177 are able to remain open. If you are recreating in these areas, please stay on the trails and take caution not to harm animals and plant life in the area.
Planning: Planning for the future growth of Superior has been a cornerstone of our Town Government. The General Plan is a roadmap to help plan for the future growth of our community, and these plans are mandated by Arizona laws. All municipalities are required to maintain and follow a General Plan, which serves as a snapshot of current conditions as well as a forecast for the next 10 years: what types of jobs, how many homes and where should things be built, are components of general plans, as well as such community services and quality of life amenities as education, parks and others, too. We have recently begun the process of a full update to the Superior General Plan. I encourage you to pick up a hard copy of the survey at the Superior Town Hall or complete it online: https://bit.ly/SuperiorGenPlan. We also are finalizing the plans for Superior’s way finding sign plan, which will help us add directional signage to downtown, trails, parks and other community amenities. Both of these planning processes are extremely important, especially due to the recent annexation that was completed earlier this year. You may have noticed that our entering Superior signs have moved further west and south, and the Boyce Thompson Arboretum is now officially within our Town boundary.
Multi-Gen Center: In 2017, the Town Council took a bold step to set several strategic goals; one in particular is the development of a Multi-Gen Center. This facility has the potential to recession-proof important community amenities such as our Senior Center and Library, while also adding important recreation facilities, event space, town hall services, as well as an Entrepreneur and Innovation Center into one location. Originally, we planned to rehabilitate the existing Town Hall (former Roosevelt Junior High) and also add a new facility to the property. Construction costs were extremely costly, and we then pivoted to consider the opportunity to purchase the original Superior High School. In late 2020, the Town Council voted to enter into an agreement with the current owners of the High School to purchase the complex. I am pleased to report that private sector funding from Resolution Copper in addition to federal grant funding is being finalized and we should remain on track to purchase the complex before the end of this year. The federal grant funding and financial support from Resolution Copper will allow us to make additional upgrades to the building and we anticipate kicking off that construction in early 2022. The Entrepreneur and Innovation Center (EIC) is already providing small business services through Seed Spot and with a new partnership with Rebuild Superior Inc. The EIC will be able to offer additional education, job training and entrepreneurial services. Those programs will be announced more fully in September.
New Micro Parks: For the past several years, the Town, in concert with the Legends of Superior Trails Inc., has been working on trailheads and other outdoor recreation spaces. Recently, the Town and the Bank of the West approved an easement agreement for the property behind the bank to improve the area and enhance the foot bridge area. The Town also accepted a donation of land from David Koreck, who donated land near the Stone Street dip, and we intend to make that the “lower rails park”. Both of these new parks will provide more space for outdoor recreation and improve the walkability and ambiance of Downtown Superior. These two parks were identified in the Superior Waters and Trails plan, which was presented in early 2020. We anticipate using our American Relief Plan Act funding for the construction of the park.
Financially, the town has mostly weathered the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Our residents did more local shopping, which always is a huge boon for our community. The Town’s budget was approved and we were able to continue to offer free dumping at our transfer station. Our property tax rate was reduced slightly, and today, we are in a better financial position than we have been in the past decade.
All of these achievements are due to the dedication of our Town Council and our Town staff, who work tirelessly to ensure that we are following regulations and always looking for additional funding to support our Town projects.
As we all begin to adapt to our “new normal”, I would like to remind you that COVID-19 is still very much present in society. Vaccination is a personal choice, but I do want to encourage you to get vaccinated if you have not already done so. According to the medical community and other experts, a vaccinated public is the best way to minimize the threat of this coronavirus in our communities and across our nation.
It is an honor to serve our community as our Mayor. Please have a safe and enjoyable summer.
Together, We Are Superior!