Buckeye mayor Eric Orsborn presented the 2021 State of the City on July 26 in the midst of the city’s fast-paced population and economic growth.
However, Buckeye, its businesses and residents faced adversity during 2020. Orsborn assured residents and his staff that thanks to the hard work and dedication from his team, Buckeye has managed to emerge from the pandemic stronger.
“Despite the challenges created by the pandemic, Buckeye has worked hard to gain a solid financial footing,” he said.
“Over the past year, city revenues have exceeded our expenses, and the city council and I are working with staff to use these funds for dedicated projects you, our residents, need the most. Our goal is to continue building a foundation for tomorrow.”
During the State of the City address, a list of projects was announced, including adding an additional travel lane on Miller Road; maintaining pavement in Festival Ranch, Tartesso and Sundance communities; remodeling and expanding the Senior Center Kitchen; providing more meals to seniors; building fire flow water lines at the Buckeye Airport; expanding Sundance Park; constructing a new police training facility; and making vacant commercial properties shovel-ready to attract new employers.
“Other goals and priorities on the horizon are major improvements to the city’s infrastructure,” Orsborn said. “The Jackie A. Meck Water Campus will improve water quality by upgrading or replacing wells and consolidating several water facilities into one central location. This project is scheduled to be complete serving Buckeye residents by spring of 2022.”
The State of the City video also informed residents of other improvements in Buckeye, including the new sewer line nearing completion on Miller Road, which will properly serve residents nearby. It will also accommodate the expected growth projected for future residential and employment centers.
Additionally, ADOT is set to start construction on the widening of I-10 from SR85 to Verrado Way this summer. The project also includes new diverging diamond interchanges at Miller and Watson roads, which is intended to help improve traffic flow in these areas.
Orsborn acknowledged the financial impact that the pandemic brought upon the country and specifically to Buckeye residents.
“While Buckeye continued its historic growth, we recognize that many residents also faced unthinkable hardships, and we’re here to help,” he said. “The water resources and community services departments teamed up with the Salvation Army to assist residents struggling to pay their utility bills. The utility assistance program administered by the Salvation Army is helping residents who qualify pay for water, sewer and trash service using up to $500,000 in CARES Act funding.”
Orsborn recognized that there were many forces working to help the Buckeye community, outside of the city council.
The Buckeye Senior Center is one of many, as it worked hard to provide nutritious meals to residents in need by creating a grab-and-go lunch program, instead of in-person meals.
The pandemic added an even greater need and emphasis on these means. Current numbers suggest the center will provide 10,000 more meals than last year.
In terms of jobs, Orsborn stated that in the past year, approximately 700 new jobs came online, and even more will be coming soon as the city welcomes Five Below.
“Their Western distribution center is massive and will open as a major employer, with the creation of 150 new jobs this summer. And that is expected to double over the next five years,” he said.
Orsborn said the economic development growth doesn’t stop there. APS broke ground on its Health West facility off SR85. This addition will improve service for residents and bring 200 jobs to Buckeye.
The video stated that the Buckeye Airport continues to play a huge role in the city’s economic development and that a new water line will create efficient flow for fire protection to commercial sites, attracting more businesses to this area.
As for education, Orsborn said this is another area in which the city has seen major growth.
“Ensuring you have access to quality education is key to our future. This includes smaller class sizes and more teachers for our growing community. Two new elementary schools will open this fall in the Buckeye and Liberty elementary school districts. John S. McCain III Elementary School in the Buckeye Elementary School District is a state-of-the-art C-STEM school with collaborative learning classrooms,” Orsborn said. (See related story on Page 1.)
Horizons Elementary School in the Liberty Elementary School District will also open this fall, serving one of the fastest-growing neighborhoods in Buckeye. Blue Horizons will equip students with the skills and experiences needed to explore future careers through project-based learning.
West-MEC continues to provide innovative and technical education programs to prepare students for real-world careers. The Buckeye campus has one of the largest portfolios of programs available from automotive technology to welding and all trades in between.
“The future of Buckeye is bright,” Orsborn said. “We continue to grow at a healthy and steady pace. This helps us keep up with the demand from developers while also building and improving our current infrastructure. All of this growth and change won’t be easy, but it will be worth it in the end. Like you, we want Buckeye to be the best place for you to raise your family or to retire and spend time with friends. No matter why you call Buckeye home, you are here at a great time.”
The mayor announced new developments are ready to start moving dirt, and several existing developments are ready to expand, including Douglas Ranch; North Star Ranch; Trillium and Tartesso in northern sections of Buckeye; and Copper Falls, Ventana Ranch and Westpark south of I-10.
“Our economic development team has been working hard to land a variety of major projects, and several of them are ready to call Buckeye home,” Orsborn said.
NextEra Energy announced it will build a 3,000-acre solar farm with battery storage near SR85 and Riggs Road. Orsborn said this project will create as many as 500 construction jobs and will have a capital investment of $120 million, while providing another source of clean, renewable energy for the community.
Additionally, the LGE Design Build project that is under construction along Miller Road and Lower Buckeye is a finalist for a distribution facility that would initially create about 200 jobs.
Orsborn hinted that another project is in escrow on a 200-acre parcel at the southeast corner of Watson and Southern. The large, national retail distribution center will ultimately employ around 1,800 people.
To round out the projects, Orsborn said there are new retailers coming into Buckeye, including ALDI grocery store, Macayos and Five Below.
To end the State of the City, Orsborn thanked his community and assured them there is much to be excited for in the years to come.
“I hope to share more exciting economic development news with you in the near future. Until then, know that we are working hard to improve everyone’s quality of life and Buckeye, as we build the foundation for tomorrow, in a time like no other.”