At the September 18, 2019, Pinal County Board of Supervisors (BOS) meeting, Kent Taylor, director of Open Space & Trails for Pinal County, presented an update to the Board on the CAP National Recreation Trail and Peralta Regional Park. The two projects, combined, will increase regional park acreage by 10% and add 49% more regional trail miles by 2021.
CAP Corridor Trail
The CAP trail will establish a “multi-use non-motorized corridor” on the maintenance dike that runs alongside the CAP canal. CAP will continue providing the upkeep of the trail/maintenance road, which minimizes the expense to the county. “We will have to maintain about 7/10 of a mile of trail and the trailhead, similar to what we do on the Arizona National Scenic Trail,” said Taylor. “Only it’s a lot easier to get to.”
The total implementation cost for the CAP trail is $171,450, including environmental clearances, trail construction, trailhead construction, signage, gates and fencing.
The grand opening for the first segment will be on October 2. It is 10.5 miles, running from the Pinal-Pima County Line to Park Link Drive.
The next segment will tie in from Park Link Drive to the town of Florence (39.5 miles). The estimated timeline for completion of that portion is 2-3 years.
The CAP trail through Pinal County will also be the alignment for the Sun Corridor Trail, which is envisioned as a suburban/urban connection running from Tucson, through Pinal County, Maricopa County, Prescott, Flagstaff and, eventually, into Clark County, NV.
Peralta Regional Park
Located just south of the Superstition Wilderness and east of Gold Canyon, Peralta Regional Park will cover 498 acres. “The park will include a couple of things that came out of our master plan process… the climbing area and the stargazing node, which is in kind of a little bowl area. It’ll have a little trail that goes from the parking area and some setup pads for telescopes,” Taylor elaborated.
“One of the things we heard in our planning process is that people want this to be a primitive park, so there’s no infrastructure out there – so we can’t have a lot of lighting and that kind of thing. That also kept intact the dark sky component.” The park will also have campground areas, hiking, multi-use non-motorized trail opportunities, picnic areas and a small rock climbing area.
Additional modifications to the design include a new entrance road, improved access to the parking area, a separate equestrian parking area, a fully accessible trail loop and modifications to the parking area and trails to avoid cultural resources.
Currently the county is anticipating the results of the environmental assessment. “We’re expecting the ‘finding of no significant Impact’ (FONSI) anytime now.” Taylor expects to have lease documents ready for BOS review in November.
Estimated implementation costs include: Phase 1 - $3,848,500; Phase 2 - $320,080; plus one time start up costs of $90,000. The annual estimated operational cost is $200,000. Development impact fees will bear the brunt of the financial burden. “We currently have about $3.7 million in the bank right now,” explained Taylor, “but it has taken us since 2007 to collect that money.” Additional sources of funding listed in the presentation are “General Fund” and “Other.”
Supervisor Todd House suggested, “A fee schedule for this park is something that could be easily looked at and could benefit some of those cost offsets.”
County Manager’s Report: RTA Tax Appeal
Public Works Director Louis Anderson stepped in for Greg Stanley to provide the County Manager’s report. The job will soon be Anderson’s on a regular basis: with Stanley retiring in October, Anderson is on-deck as the next County Manager.
Anderson reported that the Pinal County Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) would present their arguments to the court “today” (September 18).
In November, 2018, a Maricopa County judge ruled that the half-cent transportation excise tax, approved by Pinal County voters one year earlier as proposition 417, is “illegal” due to the verbiage of the variable tax rate, which exempts purchases of items that cost more than $10,000. Pinal County authorities appealed that decision.
On Wednesday, September 18, 2019, the appellate court heard the arguments from attorneys for the RTA, Goldwater Institute and the Arizona Department of Revenue. The court is expected to issue a decision soon.
Meanwhile, Pinal County has been allowed to continue collecting the tax. In FY 2018-19, the tax generated more than $17 million. The current year’s proceeds are anticipated to meet or surpass that amount. All revenue from the half-cent tax, intended to fund transportation projects throughout the county (notably, the North-South Corridor highway), is being held in escrow, pending the outcome of the appeal.
Approved on the Purchasing Div. Consent Agenda:
- Right Away Disposal for Public Recycling Services. This is the second annual contract renewal, which will run through September 2020, with one option period remaining. The County spent approximately $72,200 on these services in the previous year of the contract.
- Oasis Psychological Services for Behavioral Health Services. The contract is used by Adult Probation.
- The BOS also approved Cooperative Purchasing Agreement procurements for:
- Twelve 2020 Chevy Tahoes from Midway Chevrolet ($659,127) – Pinal County Sheriff’s Office
- Three 2020 Chevy Tahoes from O’Reilly Chevrolet ($115,495) – Pinal County Sheriff’s Office
- Software Maintenance & Support from ESRI ($141,700) – IT Dept.
- Autoclear X-ray from Autoclear ($116,250) – Pinal County Court
The BOS approved a new position for the Public Works Department. The Water Administrator will be charged with interacting with the several agencies that coordinate, manage and govern water supply and sustainability issues, including the Arizona Legislature, Dept. of Water Resources, Department of Environmental Quality, Central Arizona Water Conservation District, Salt River Project and other agencies. The position will advise the BOS and county management on water-related issues, including strategic plans for water management.
Building Codes Updated
Chief Building Official Tony Guasp responded to questions from the BOS concerning plans to adopt the 2018 ICC Building Codes, including the 2017 NEC Electrical Codes and the 2018 ICC Energy Code (with amendments). Currently, the county uses the 2012 codes when reviewing building permits.
“The new electrical codes are very strong on energy efficiency,” stated Guasp. “The building code is published every 3 years, addressing new construction trends, while the amendments address local needs.
“When you read the body of the code, it’s pretty extreme, so we have to reduce those requirements [for individual property owners], but still have them safe.”
A public hearing and possible Board action is scheduled for Wed., Oct. 2. If approved, the new codes will take effect Nov. 1, 2019, with a 60-day grace period for developers.