Annexation pitch by Mayor Serdy fails to persuade meeting attendees
Apache Junction Mayor Jeff Serdy addressed residents of Gold Canyon at a community meeting on March 22, 2018 at the Gold Canyon Community Church (the former Gold Canyon Elementary School) on Kings Ranch Rd. His message was that there would be an advantage to the Superstition Mountain region if both Apache Junction and Gold Canyon joined together and formed a representative government. However, most attendees were not persuaded to change the community.
Despite the fact that those in attendance did not vote for him—not being residents of Apache Junction—Mayor Serdy explained that one of the reasons for his presentation was to fulfill a campaign promise to reach out to the region.
“I also reached out to Superior,” he said.
In his presentation, Serdy explored ways in which Gold Canyon would benefit from a “merger” with the city he represents. He gave a similar presentation to the Apache Junction City Council a year ago where a consensus was reached to focus on unincorporated areas within the city boundaries rather than the larger region.
The meeting was held on the property where Dinosaur Mountain Park was developed by community volunteers. The park now may be lost when the property is sold. Serdy said that the city may have been able to help Gold Canyon secure the park.
He pointed out that Peralta Trail Elementary to the east has only Pinal County Sheriffs deputies patrolling the neighborhood and suggested that an Apache Junction Police presence there and in the community’s other residential areas would make citizens safer. Serdy said Apache Junction’s membership on the boards of Mesa Gateway Airport, and Association of Central Arizona Governments could help Gold Canyon residents influence outcomes regarding air traffic noise.
“We share a school district, fire district, Silly Mountain and the Superstition Mountain,” he said. “What if we pooled our resources—get you some council members. If there were a merger, Gold Canyon could be running Apache Junction. Gold Canyon votes more than Apache Junction.”
According to Serdy, the biggest advantage of including the population of Gold Canyon to Apache Junction’s 39,000 residents would be that—at 50,000 residents—Apache Junction would qualify for more funding from the State.
On stage, Mayor Serdy displayed a map of the region and pointed out Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and State Land holdings to the south of Apache Junction and to the west, south and east of Gold Canyon. He said that the region should come together to influence the future growth of the region.
He encouraged Gold Canyon residents to actively lobby their representatives to get the intersection of US-60 with the north/south corridor moved to Goldfield Rd., closer to Gold Canyon.
When Serdy opened up the meeting to questions, he faced an audience that was overwhelmingly in favor of leaving things the way they are.
Pinal County Supervisor Todd House, who was in attendance, pointed out that Gold Canyon already has able representation with development, roads and law enforcement.
“We already pay taxes for this stuff,” said another attendee, “if you were talking to a community that wasn’t happy, you’d have an easier time.”
“Everything you say is about growth,” another Gold Canyon resident stated. “I don’t think anyone in Gold Canyon moved here for growth. Keep your road out west, we don’t want your growth—leave us alone.”
Judging by the boisterous applause following that statement, the audience agreed.
The decision to join Apache Junction lies with property owners in Gold Canyon. If they wanted to move ahead with an annexation, there would be a public notice, public hearings, mailings and a one year waiting period to collect signatures.
51% of Gold Canyon property owners would have to be in favor of annexation before Apache Junction could adopt an ordinance to annex. The League of Arizona Cities and Towns annexation document is available online at www.ajcity.net/DocumentCenter/View/15808.
Mayor Serdy concluded the meeting by suggesting that a committee be formed to continue the discussion. He said representatives from the community, the fire and school districts, the Association for the Development of a Better Environment (ADOBE) and Superstition Area Land Trust (SALT) would be valuable members.
A long-time Gold Canyon resident, John Enright, said “Everyone wants to be the last one here and that’s not going to happen. I think annexation is off the table, but let’s think about what we can do together.”