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How to make Pinal a paradise, in 17 steps



Pinal County wants to be a distinctive place. Pinal County wants strong family-friendly communities – plus good jobs, easy mobility and lots of open spaces.

“The Future at Pinal” offers 17 “cool tools” to turn Pinal’s wants into realities.

Ready to use as is, be made better or mix and match, these ideas could revolutionize development in Pinal and throughout Arizona or inspire even more creative options.

1. Establish the Pinal Consensus Council.

Municipalities, tribes, federal and county governments, business interests and community organizations together would develop effective agreements on tough public policy issues.

2. Agree on a Pinal tax treaty.

A good idea even with recent state legislation curbing some incentives, sales taxes received could be pooled and divided based on population and on the source of taxes generated.

3. Establish Pinal as a regional service provider.

Municipalities, Indian communities and the private and nonprofit sectors could enter into agreements with county government to receive services that might be hard to provide.

4. “Greenprint” the state trust land in Pinal County.

“Greenprinting” is a term invented by the Trust for Public Land to identify land for permanent conservation.

5. Use a countywide impact fee to buy open space.

Pinal could fund its new open space plan in part through a uniform countywide development impact fee on every new single-family residential unit.

6. Make Pinal a national leader in outdoor education with Pinal’s Outdoor Kids

Pinal’s Outdoor Kids – delivered through schools, but underwritten by governments, community organizations and volunteers – would ensure that all K-12 students learn about and through nature.

7. Create a three-county Megapolitan Mobility Project to move people and cargo efficiently through the heart of the Sun Corridor.

Like the Central Arizona Project for water, the mobility project would deal with transportation on a megascale.

8. Celebrate agriculture with community gardens and co-op farms.

Pinal’s agricultural history and the current gardening trend could be combined to offer activities for newcomers and established residents.

9. Use the 3Rs to fix it first.

Rehabilitate, renovate and restore would be Pinal’s watchwords. Invest in city centers using the best techniques in historic preservation and redevelopment.

10. Carry out smart growth principles in all development and redevelopment.

Zoning, guidelines and incentives could be used to encourage smart growth and the integration of new developments with existing communities.

11. Adopt a uniform “green” building code.

City and county leaders could work with the U.S. Green Building Council to develop new Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design standards for desert buildings.

12. Prohibit landscape plants that are harmful to the Sonoran Desert.

Pinal’s Desert Harmony program would provide incentives to replace non-native, invasive plants.

13. Integrate education, training, economic development and employment services with Pinal Workways.

Instead of a piecemeal approach to work force and economic development, Pinal could establish a public-private organization to improve Pinal’s work force.

14. Agree on locations for employment centers. Do not allow homes there.

The Pinal Consensus Council could identify the best locations for job centers and create a Job Centers Trust to “bank” the land as employment reserves.

15. Establish the Pinal Scholars fund.

Pinal would provide scholarships for high school graduates and adults for college and postsecondary training. Incentives and requirements to stay in or return to the region would keep the increased brain power in Pinal.

16. Use arts and culture as a major tool in quality education, strong communities and a robust economy.

Creativity could be fostered at all ages through arts education, library services and family literacy programs.

17. Give every child in Pinal a Super Start.

Pinal could leverage Head Start, voluntary all-day kindergarten and local school readiness efforts. Long-term savings and more productivity would be the benefits.

More on Pinal County: Robb: Growing pains evident in once-rural area

More on Pinal County: Editorial: Growth to affect entire area

More on Pinal County: Later generations will benefit from county’s foresight, county manager predicts

Grady Gammage Jr. is a senior research fellow at the Morrison Institute for Public Policy at Arizona State University. Nancy Welch is Morrison Institute’s associate director.



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