At Marana’s recent State of the Town luncheon, Mayor Ed Honea was joined by town staff to highlight all the projects they’ve accomplished this past year—and there were many.
Hosted at The Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain resort last Thursday, Honea broke the ice with the biggest accomplishment of all: the near-completion of a new interchange at Interstate 10 and Ina Road. The room of 470 guests erupted in applause.
Over two years in the making, the Arizona Department of Transportation’s Ina Road Interchange project also eliminated at-grade railroad crossings, reconstructed frontage roads and installed fiber optic communication cables.
“When this is completed, I believe it will be the No. 1 east-west corridor in the entire urban area,” Honea told the crowd.
Honea and his team made it clear this is an exciting time for Marana. Their program focused on the town’s improvements in public infrastructure, parks and recreation and economic development.
In October 2018, Marana opened its new police headquarters just across the courtyard from town hall.
“A $22 million facility that was paid for the day we opened the door,” Honea said. “The reason it was is we went to the chamber of commerce, HOAs, citizens groups, business groups and everybody, and said ‘Our police force is growing so quickly, we do not have adequate space to take care of them. We don’t have K-9 facilities, we don’t have a firing range.’”
The town council passed a half-cent sales tax in April 2015 to pay for the new police station, which was repealed after its completion.
Marana also saw the completion of a new water reclamation and aquifer recharge facility, allowing for 10,000 new homes and businesses to be served. Hilary Hiser, Marana’s Deputy Town Clerk, said the recharge facility allows the town to receive credits from the Arizona Department of Water Resources, which help secure Marana’s water needs for years to come.
“I know it isn’t sexy, but if your toilet doesn’t flush, you’d appreciate that plant being there,” Honea said.
In December, the Water Infrastructure Finance Authority of Arizona approved a $15 million-dollar loan for Marana to address unregulated compounds affecting two of the town’s seven isolated water systems. Staff are now working on the design and construction for two water treatment plants which will live in the Picture Rocks/Continental Reserve and Airline/Lambert areas.
Heath Vescovi-Chiordi, Marana’s Economic Development Specialist, told the crowd about the rapid growth Marana is experiencing, which doesn’t seem to be slowing down any time soon.
In 2018, over 800 new single-family homes were built in the town. Vescovi-Chiordi said this signifies about 2,300 new people moving to Marana, making the total population surpass 48,000.
“Because of this rapid and sustainable growth, developers have plans to expand those numbers and challenge the 824 single-family home permits we issued in 2018,” he said. “Right now, we have ten new subdivisions with 1,500 new lots planned throughout the community, including the Gladden Farms area, Dove Mountain area and Saguaro Bloom.”
With more people relocating to Marana, the Northwest Fire District is relocating Station 37 in Dove Mountain to a new location near the Gallery Sports Club to better serve northern areas of town.
Vescovi-Chiordi said increased development in the Gladden Farms area has spurred the construction of Station 41, located on Tangerine Road near the Gladden Farms II development.
In addition, Marana will see a new K-8 school open this fall at 5650 W. Moore Road, known as Dove Mountain CSTEM. The school will specialize in hands-on learning with modern technology.
Vescovi-Chiordi said the new Hampton Inn & Suites, which opened next to the Tucson Premium Outlet Mall, created a positive retail opportunity for the region.
“With the pairing of the hotel and the luxury shopping experience at the Outlet Mall, Marana is now able to attract a significant number of travelers from Mexico who come solely for the purpose of shopping and staying overnight in our community,” he said.
This retail-tourism helps contribute significantly to the town’s sales and bed taxes.
Also up and coming is a new commercial center on the north side of West Cortaro Farms Road just east of the interstate, near Arizona Pavilions, which will house a new Dutch Brothers, Serial Grillers, a micro-hospital and ATI physical therapy. Other additions to the town include Top Golf (which completed its first full calendar year of business), the Hitting Factory and Modern Studios, which boasts more production studio space than any other facility in the entire state.
Isaac Abbs, the town’s Technology Services Director, said Marana grew its recreational offerings by 30 percent this year, bringing horseback riding, art events, job training and new amenities to town residents.
Tangerine Road, which has been widened to four lanes and upgraded with multi-use paths from Oro Valley to Dove Mountain, saw another addition with the new Tangerine Sky Community Park at Camino de Oeste in August 2018.
Abbs said it’s the first major public park serving northeast Marana residents, featuring ramadas, playgrounds, trails, dog parks, ziplines and a basketball court.
This year, town staff worked to extend the Tortolita Mountain trail system and the Santa Cruz shared use path. Facility improvements were done at all town parks, including the installation of a new solar panel structure over the Crossroads at Silverbell District Park basketball court.
Abbs said the town plans to bring back disc golf to the El Rio Preserve with the addition of a recreation area nearby, and an observation deck for bird watchers.
To compliment these new developments, town staff have developed a new Parks and Recreation mobile app, which can give residents and visitors information about park closures, programs, events and trail conditions.
“Users can check the status of their favorite park amenities in real time, and sign up for activities,” Abbs said.
Looking forward into 2019, the Town of Marana is already designing the “blueprints for the future,” according to Hiser.
Town staff is working with residents through the Marana Citizens’ Forum to draft the 2040 General Plan Update. The Marana Parks and Recreation 10-year master plan, the North Marana Drainage Study, the Sewer Conveyance Master Plan and the Potable Water Plan are all in the works as well.