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City of Apache Junction
2017 - 2018

City of Apache Junction
2017 - 2018

City of Apache Junction
2017 - 2018

City of Apache Junction

Nestled at the foot of the Superstition Mountains, Apache Junction is strategically positioned as the eastern gateway into the Greater Phoenix metro area (Valley of the Sun) and the western entry to the Tonto National Forest’s recreation venues. The surrounding geography and western atmosphere draw more than half a million visitors through the city annually. From the mysterious stories of hidden treasures to the people who follow them, Apache Junction is surrounded by legends.

2017-2018 Apache Junction Projects

Off-Leash Dog Park Site Analysis

In 2008 the city approved the master plan for an off-leash facility as Phase Four to the city’s existing Prospector Park. A complete set of construction working drawings for the off-leash facility were completed and approved in 2009. Unfortunately, funding for the Phase One off-leash facility did not make it into the budget the following year. A master plan for Silly Mountain Park was also developed and approved by the City in 2008. A major component of that effort was a 4.5 acre dog park, which was included in response to citizen interest during public hearings related to the park. With both proposed dog parks are over 4 acres in size, projected costs for Prospector and Silly Mountain Park are in the millions. To stretch budgets, a 2015 effort by city staff was made to consider lower cost, alternative sites. As a result, a conceptual off-leash dog park plan was developed in an area that the city currently maintains for Pinal County. The estimated cost of a dog park on this site is around $650,000. Though initial discussions have been started with county and city leadership, ideas have not yet been presented to elected officials or the community, and the City is still searching for alternative off-leash sites.

  • LDE 361-590 Landscape Design with Dr. Kenneth Brooks and Kevin Kellogg:
    Students will create a land use map and recommendations for the City, with particular attention to the needs of each project.
  • PAF 509 Public Affairs Capstone with Dr. Malcom Goggin:
    Students are undertaking policy research, assessments, and analysis related to each project.
View Fall 2017 Semester Project Presentations

Positively Apache Junction

In years past, Apache Junction residents have seen and heard many stereotypes about their community. Stereotypes have confused and discouraged visitors from spending time and money in the city. In an effort to counteract negative perceptions and inform visitors about Apache Junction’s positive attributes, substantial tourism marketing efforts began in 2009 with the implementation of the Downtown Revitalization and Implementation Strategy (DRIS). One recommendation in the DRIS was to create original branding to identify the downtown area as unique within the city. Another part of the strategy was the development of the downtownaj.com website for updates on the progress of the DRIS, which is being transformed into visitaj.com. Though visitaj.com was originally envisioned as a tool to entice visitors to the burgeoning downtown it has not come to fruition. City staff received new directions and budget appropriations, to begin a partnership with the Arizona Office of Tourism (AOT). The partnership allows the city to explore new advertising opportunities with AOT over the past four years. Through this partnership, a multi-channel approach has been taken that includes both print and digital platforms. Even so, work remains to be done on reversing negative perceptions.

In the spring semester, the approach will differ from the Tourism Plan produced during the fall semester. One group of students will use online GIS mapping tools to locate physical and cultural assets inside, and adjacent to, city limits. Outcomes will inform community based planning processes in the future that further develop the currently available assets. In a parallel effort, other students will engage with city residents to expose historical cultural context through theatrical performance based on resident’s stories. Those stories can be used in the future to give historical context to visitors and residents alike, creating positive connection points and reasons to explore the city.

Classes Involved:

  • LDE 361-590 Landscape Design with Dr. Kenneth Brooks and Kevin Kellogg:
    Students will create a land use map and recommendations for the City, with particular attention to the needs of each project.
  • TDM 372 Tourism Planning with Dr. Evan Jordan:
    Students will write a Sustainable Tourism Plan for the City
  • TWC 544 User Experience with Dr. Tatiana Batova:
    Students will review the City’s website for ease of access, applicable information, and recommendations for improving content and layout.
  • HST 485 History in the Wild with Dr. Joshua MacFadyen:
    Students in HST 485 will work with the Positively Apache Junction Project to produce a series of 6-10 online histories that help situate Apache Junction and its surrounding environment in the larger history of Arizona and the Southwest.
  • THP 514 Projects/Community Based Theatre with Dr. Stephani Etheridge Woodson:
    Students will work with local residents to tell stories related to the history of Apache Junction. To advance the Positively Apache Junction project, students will use performances as a laboratory to explore and develop place-based stories.
View Fall 2017 Semester Project Presentations

Sustainability & Solid Waste

The City of Apache Junction is home to the Apache Junction Landfill Corporation’s landfill (a subsidiary of Allied Waste/Republic Services) and as such has very low disposal fees. City residents are allowed to bring one pickup truck load of solid waste for free to the landfill, four times a year. All other times, residents may drop waste at the landfill for $8.00 per ton. Solid waste collection or recycling is not mandated by the city for residents. Moving the city from a fledgling solid waste program to one similar to its peer cities will take a concerted effort, and buy-in from residents, staff and elected officials. The city has a solid waste ordinance in Volume I, Chapter 9 of the City Code. The ordinance outlines requirements for days on which trash may be collected and where trash containers may be placed before and after pick up. The city council issued a direction to staff in February of 2017 to revise Chapter 9, primarily for code compliance issues, but also asking city staff for their suggested improvements to the solid waste ordinance. City staff presented an ASU authored paper titled Sustainability and Solid Waste in Apache Junction to the city council on June 19th. Staff are waiting to hear if the council is interested in changing the current system. City staff, city management and some council members have indicated that they are now interested in making changes to improve solid waste and recycling in the city.

Classes Involved:

  • ERM 432/532 Sustainable Solid Waste Management with Dr. Albert Brown:
    Students will evaluate the formal complaints registered by residents related to the City’s solid waste services.
  • LDE 361-590 Landscape Design with Dr. Kenneth Brooks and Kevin Kellogg:
    Students will create a land use map and recommendations for the City, with particular attention to the needs of each project.
  • PAF 509 Public Affairs Capstone with Dr. Malcom Goggin:
    Students are undertaking policy research, assessments, and analysis related to each project.
View Fall 2017 Semester Project Presentations

Understanding Homelessness

The City of Apache Junction perceives the rapid increase in homelessness, and illegal activities by homeless people are a growing concern. The Chronic Homeless Committee was established to take a look at the homeless situation and create solutions. In March 2017, the committee held a brainstorming session on ideas for addressing the situation. The city struggles with identifying real concerns versus perceived issues, identifying best practices used by communities similar to Apache Junction, providing effective cross boundary services, and establishing a unified voice among elected officials, management, staff, law enforcement, the business community, and the public.

Classes Involved:

  • LDE 361-590 Landscape Design with Dr. Kenneth Brooks and Kevin Kellogg:
    Students will create a land use map and recommendations for the City, with particular attention to the needs of each project.
  • PAF 509 Public Affairs Capstone with Dr. Malcom Goggin:
    Students are undertaking policy research, assessments, and analysis related to each project.
  • PUP 571 Socio-Economic Planning with Dr. Deirdre Pfeiffer:
    Students will assess the homelessness situation in Apache Junction, relative to the services, boundaries, and scope compared with similar cities.
View Fall 2017 Semester Project Presentations

Transitioning Mobile Home/RV Parks

As a popular destination for winter visitors, Apache Junction has one-hundred twenty-five Mobile Home and Recreational Vehicle Parks and Subdivisions within the city limits. Construction on some of the parks dates back to the 1950s with park construction and design standards varying over the years. Therefore designs, amenities, and conditions vary from park to park. Many older parks are now run down or deteriorating and detrimental to Apache Junction’s image. However, many of the older parks are an affordable option for low-income residents. The city presently has limited regulatory tools that set minimum standards for park maintenance. The purpose of the project is to determine a future path for some of the more blighted parks in the city without reducing the affordable housing stock in the city. Students will research and propose affordable housing options to move aging, dilapidated parks to more desirable and productive neighborhoods. Solutions will focus on defining minimum standards and enforceable codes, possible zoning code changes that would allow redevelopment options that include a variety of housing types, and the feasibility of redeveloping/converting a hypothetical pilot project(s) to an alternative affordable residential development.

Classes Involved:

  • PUP 593 MUEP Professional Project with Dr. Deirdre Pfeiffer:
    Students will prepare a report outlining the current state of mobile home and RV park conditions in Apache Junction.
View Fall 2017 Semester Project Presentations

New Municipal Revenue Sources for Apache Junction

Retail sales taxes are the primary source of revenue for the City of Apache Junction. The city has seen a slow but steady increase in sales tax revenues but a decline in state transportation funds. There is also the prospect of the incorporation of San Tan Valley that can impact state-shared revenue. With the growth of online retail and the rapidly changing landscape of brick and mortar retail, the city wants to examine these implications on tax revenues in the city. As a result of this changing environment, attracting the right kind off new businesses is even more critical for the city. The slow pace of economic growth even though the city has freeway frontage opportunities, resident’s resistance to property taxes, and high current retail tax rate pose limits on existing and new revenue streams. While the city has little if any debt service, city expenses in the form of employee benefits, maintenance, and infrastructure costs have been increasing more rapidly than revenues. The project purpose is to look at existing revenue sources and look for new revenue streams that do not depend on retail sales or property taxes to keep pace with increasing costs. Students will look at peer community’s innovative revenue structures, fee schedules, and other opportunities for revenue generation and make recommendations for adoption by the city.

Classes Involved:

  • PAF 509 Public Affairs Capstone with Dr. Malcom Goggin:
    Students are undertaking policy research, assessments, and analysis related to each project.
View Fall 2017 Semester Project Presentations

Sustainability Planning

As a fairly young city, Apache Junction has not had the staff time or resources to examine its future-especially through the lens of sustainability. The primary source of future thinking has been through General Plan updates, developed every 10 years as mandated by the State of Arizona. The city is interested in what it can do to promote a more sustainable future in the next general plan update. The purpose of the project is for students to do a sustainability assessment of the city to determine what assets and opportunities can be leveraged for a more sustainable future. Then students will propose specific sustainability recommendations and language for the city’s next General Plan Update that will transform the city as it moves into the future.

Classes Involved:

  • PUP 548 Planning for Sustainable Communities with Dr. Sara Meerow:
    Students will develop a report with multiple chapters covering different aspects of sustainability (e.g. the built environment, climate and energy, economy and jobs, education, arts, and community, equity and empowerment, health and safety, and natural systems) as well as an executive summary. Where data is available, students will calculate the STAR Communities Leading indicators related to each of the themes.
View Fall 2017 Semester Project Presentations