Home Is Where the Heart Is

by Craig H. McFarland, Mayor, City of Casa Grande

It’s a line made famous by Elvis Presley: “For home is where the heart is, and my heart is anywhere you are, anywhere you are is home.” It’s also a line that my wife has used for as long as I have known her. Maybe that’s because I moved her 10 times … hmm! She is a trooper and my rock.

Casa Grande is home. A home that we care for and cherish. And the reason I ran for Mayor was because I wanted to try to make it better and make a difference.

A recap of the last year reveals we did some good, but we still have much to do. Here are some accomplishments and some unfinished goals.

Strategic Plan: This plan was completed with the help of all City Council members. It includes proposals for fiscal responsibility, quality of life, marketing, infrastructure and education. Within the plan are calls for things such as internships (for our high school and Central Arizona College students); addressing our “blight,” including south-side lots littered with glass; our boarded-up gas station; and the widening of I-10. The planning phase will begin by the first quarter of 2019. It’s a really good plan. Staff has bought in and is helping to implement it.

Community Center: It is almost complete and should be open in April. It is a beautiful facility with an area for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Casa Grande Valley.

Education & Workforce Development: This is an ongoing process, and it’s moving forward nicely. With the help and guidance of the Pinal Alliance for Economic Growth and Achieve Pinal, there is more cooperation and coordination between community leaders, Central Arizona College, Casa Grande High School District, Casa Grande Elementary School District, and our charter schools than I have observed in the previous 12 years. One of my personal goals is to build on this spirit and look at building a “Science and Technology Center” in Casa Grande.

Development:

• Planning and Development – Impact-Fee Review and Streamlining Process: Thanks to the great work of the Planning and Development Department, impact-fee changes will be implemented by mid-April. On-line building application processes and automated building inspection requests and notification will happen mid-year and the first quarter of 2019, respectively. We are also looking into an ombudsman program to have someone help walk people through our planning and development processes.

• Water Planning – This is a work in progress. I am co-chair of the Eloy, Maricopa and Stanfield water-basin study, a $1.36 million study that will take three years to complete. Additionally, the City of Casa Grande is currently developing its own water plan.

• Supporting CG Business – I will continue to be a big supporter/promoter of all Casa Grande businesses through my City to Business meetings, supporting Main Street and our Neon Park (opening the first quarter of this year), supporting our Chamber of Commerce and buy-local programs and looking forward to the Urban Land Institute downtown study coming in March.

• Home Starts and Homebuilders – A year ago we had two builders and today we have 10 homebuilders working in Casa Grande. We should finish 2018 with over 350 new-home permits. We still have much work to be done regarding affordable and workforce housing.

• Industry – Notwithstanding our current industry, which we should never discount and continue to support, the LKQ opening, Attesa and Lucid Motors are all amazing projects. Additionally, we have another 20 projects in the pipeline with one being bigger than all the aforementioned.

• Publication – We will have a new Economic Development magazine completed and out for use by early 2019.

Homelessness: The Mayor’s Task Force on Homelessness has concluded with a strategic plan and seven committees that are all working with the Homeless Coalition, United Way and Community Action Human Resources Agency (CAHRA). Additionally, we will open the first-of-its-kind Casa Grande Community Resource Center at the Peart Center in February. This center will help guide underserved community members through the maze of community services and should help our most vulnerable citizens.

Casa Grande Airport: We continue to expand on our business park and services at the airport. Our airport is a gem and we need to continue to support its use, expansion and current businesses.

For me, home is Casa Grande. I will continue to work for its betterment. That, and all the above, being said…here is looking forward to a great 2019!

Craig H. McFarland, Mayor, City of Casa Grande