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A survey published in June shows that Sahuarita residents rate leisure-based outdoor activities as most important among recreational options, and the town has made various efforts throughout 2018 to bring in opportunities and assets that support resident lifestyles. “We know that expanding and improving our parks is of great importance to people,” said Mayor Tom Murphy. “Things like sports fields and picnic ramadas—even ensuring that residents have well-maintained places to bring their pets—is something people show up to council meetings to voice concerns about.”
Ranking the importance of recreation, residents indicate that shaded picnic areas, walking trails/paths, community-sponsored events/concerts, and sports fields/facilities are the top four most important amenities the town can help provide. Murphy notes that in the past year, the town has made strides toward providing more sports fields through an intergovernmental agreement with Sahuarita Unified School District (SUSD) for the shared use of fields at the new Wrightson Ridge K-8 School. The town’s contribution of $1.4 million to the project’s construction made this partnership possible.
Town Manager Kelly Udall said that previous surveys showed similar results in terms of how residents would like to see Sahuarita grow. “Upon hearing what residents want, we’ve been able to allocate funding accordingly,” Udall said. Udall noted that in 2015-16, the town invested in building soccer fields and adding lighting at Quail Creek-Veterans Municipal Park in direct response to resident feedback. The town set aside and spent nearly $1.7 million dollars for that project. “And in 2017-18, we saw the inaugural seasons of Live Music at the Lake,” Udall said. “We’re bringing family-friendly cultural experiences to residents. We add events and amenities a little bit every year in this regard.” Longer term, Udall said that it’s important for the town to attract the private investment that will bring commercial amenities that mesh with active lifestyles and outdoor opportunities. “We continue to look for ways to finance projects in our capital improvement plan,” Udall said. Earlier this year, Udall notes that the town was key in collaborating with Pima County to build The Anza Llano Grande Trailhead. The County constructed the trailhead and the town will maintain it. The Trail itself, Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail, is now a native dirt surface that is usable by residents for walking and cycling. When complete, it will continue the Anza Trail from Elephant Head Road to Castillo Drive, about 17 miles.
The town’s fiscal year 2019 operating budget and five-year, capital improvement plan lays out several projects under consideration, including a splash pad, community bicycle pump track, pickle ball courts, and an inclusive playground. Parks and Recreation Director, Nanette Smejkal says one of her main goals is to help bolster quality of life through expanding park amenities, community events, and finding creative solutions with community partnerships and non-profit organizations to advance projects. “We have great strength in our residents as active, interested participants. The Sahuarita we’re looking at five or ten years down the road is one that will have maintained what we have at a high standard, made the most of emerging opportunities, and created an environment that is conducive to private investment. Maintaining and expanding our parks and leisure programs goes hand-in-hand with keeping Sahuarita an attractive place for people to live or start a business.”
The 2018 Citizen Survey was conducted throughout the month of April, and over 900 residents responded, which exceeded projected goals. For further, more detailed information about the resident survey results, please review the survey report.