Ted Simons: Last fall residents of buckeye voted to change their community's designation from a town to a city. As producer Christina Estes and photographer Juan Magana show us, it's part of a bigger push to send the message that buckeye is open for business.
When the country's largest chain of rural life-style stores was searching for a new Arizona location --
Did you find everything okay?
It went 35 miles west of Phoenix.
Why buckeye, friendly community, a lot of great people, growth. The location was key off the 10, and think with the potential out here in Buckeye --
It is the western-most suburb with direct access to Interstate 10, state route 85, and rail line. When it comes to land area, Buckeye is the top city in Arizona.
We're larger than the city of Phoenix. 600 square miles. They're 500 and something. So, you could take cities and physically set them in our planning area and we could engulf them.
In 2,000 Buckeye's population was just over 6,000. Today it is just shy of 60,000.
We are headed for a 1,500,000, to 1,800,000 in the next 50 to 100 years.
During Buckeye's inaugural state of the city address, the mayor Jackie Meck touted their vision.
Within the city of Buckeye, we have become aggressive in conveying our strong desire to build quality jobs, capital investment, and retail sales taxes to prospect and our partners.
The city paid $2.5 million for the shopping center after it went into foreclosure. Mostly empty now, the 66,000 square feet should look much different next year when a new library, police substation and other city offices move in. Buckeye plans to add a 7th fire station next year. That is also when residents should be enjoying skyline regional park in the southern white tank mountains. It is part of a long-term lease with the bureau of land management to preserve open space. With the help of grants, Buckeye will build restrooms and shade areas. And down the road, the mayor says, they will really cash in.
We pay operating expenses and at the end of the 25 years, we actually purchase or get the land deeded for $1.00 , 8,675 acres for $1.00 We buy it. We will own it, yes.
Our district at %5 growth is the fastest growing district in Maricopa County.
At its six schools, the Buckeye elementary district serves about 5,000 students. The superintendent says they expect to keep adding two or 300 kids per year.
With that type of growth, we will definitely look to be adding schools.
Last fall, Buckeye voters approved a district override, generating $2 million.
I don't think I was surprised, although I will tell you it is just hard work. You have to constantly talk to your constituents about the value of education.
I heard good thinking here. Share your thinking.
District leaders, like city planners, keep a close eye on construction. Buckeye expects to issue more than 1,000 new home permits this year, and if that sounds reminiscent of the boom before the bust, mayor Meck says this time it is different.
When the mass of development came back in 2,000 6,7 and 8, started coming, we geared up for it as a community thinking it was going to last forever. And when it started to go downhill, we didn't react quick enough. And I think that is the first lesson that we have to really watch and react as soon as something starts to give. Either direction.
Buckeye hopes development around the airport will take off. City leaders want to see companies fill some of these 700 acres, but covering the basics is their most critical challenge. Buckeye is so spread out that sewer and waterlines often don't connect. Building infrastructure is necessary to bring in business. Residents recently approved a $28 million bond, based in part to the mayor's premise it will lead to new jobs. A listing of all job openings in the area reaches 6,000 people.
We have a lot of applications.
He hired 15 for his store. At 17,000 square feet, it is not tractor supply's biggest store. But he says it is the right size in the right city.
Thank you for coming in. Having a great day.
Ted Simons: Next year, the western Maricopa educational center is expected to open a campus in buckeye.