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Maricopa Meadows -- neighbors working together
Wednesday, June 3, 2009
Talk about not catching a break! The homeowners in Maricopa Meadows have had a lot to deal with, but the way they have worked together to handle those issues is the important story. They do say that what you survive makes you stronger. If that is true, Maricopa Meadows homeowners are really muscular!
In 2006, the homeowners of Maricopa Meadows took ownership of the HOA Board. More than most HOAs, they’ve had a pile of concerns that have kept them very busy. HOA Board President Christian Price, with his Board, has really dug into the pile to strategize, save money, and move through the hurdles.
It’s the people
Board President Price presides over a board that works well together. They each come with their own perspective and, even though they may have different opinions, they work as a cohesive unit.
What’s even more amazing is that when volunteer events are held, people show up – in droves. Price said that they’ve been holding two clean-up events a year to keep on top of properties with excessive weeds. When they have those events, 50 to 100 volunteers show up.
Because the “hole in the wall” robberies had residents worried -- the robbers were caught -- Debbie Pulford started a Block Watch. She didn’t like to see people afraid, so she started recruiting people using her contagious enthusiasm. The effort empowered people. Of the 100 people who came for an informational meeting on Block Watch, 80 ultimately signed up. She was impressed that the volunteers were renters, as well as homeowners.
One of Pulford’s recruits for the Block Watch is Tracy Campbell who is already involved in both the Block Watch and planning for a Block Party, to be held in September. She knew Debbie from the park and wanted to improve the community for her young daughter and others. The graffiti that showed up on walls bothered her.
One of the most active advocates for Maricopa Meadows is the Community Manager, Debbie Hrby, of Planned Development Services. Hrby has been a community manager for over 20 years and Maricopa Meadows’ community manager “since it was nothing but dirt.” When you speak with her, you can hear the pride, commitment, and sense of ownership she feels toward Maricopa Meadows.
Hrby recalls the community spirit she saw in the first Community Clean Up Event Maricopa Meadows held in 2007. They had 32 lots to clean and the volunteers worked in teams to remove the weeds. People were working faster as teams, but also getting to know each other.
In 2008, there were 60 lots to clean up, remembers Hryb, but there were “lots of volunteers.”
At the Board’s suggestion, Hrby approached the HOA’s vendors and recruited sponsorships for a community barbecue that was to be held after the clean-ups. Her compassion for the homeowners’ plight is strong, as she has “watched people struggling, working two jobs.” So, she was determined that the clean-ups and barbecue would not tap the homeowners’ already tight budgets. They have had the support of their landscaping vendor, H & N Landscaping, which has removed the clean-up debris for free and other sponsors who covered costs for food and beverages.
Budgeting and managing
The clean-ups and barbecue were planned months in advance and the sponsorship funds received were held as a separate line item in the HOA budget.
Everyone on the Board who talked about Maricopa Meadows mentioned with pride that the HOA dues have not been raised in two years. Indeed, both Price and Aaron Pulford, another Board member, spoke about how they juggle priorities to try to provide one new amenity a year.
Price talked about how they “pinch pennies and shave costs.” To that end, they opted not to over seed so they could afford to install lighting in the park.
They also all pitch in to do some of the work that they might ordinarily have hired a contractor to perform. Board members put up their own lights in common areas during the holidays and painted areas that needed to have graffiti covered.
H & N Landscaping has really contributed to their community and, in addition to hauling clean up debris for free, also “are great to work with and will bend over backward” to help, says Price. H & N got their Maricopa start in Maricopa Meadows.
Maricopa Meadows works closely with the Maricopa schools and the City Recreation Department. As a good neighbor, they have allowed their common areas to be used for teams and sports activities. They have also been allowed to use the schools facilities to hold meetings.
Their proximity to the Maricopa Wells Middle School and High School has been both a positive and a negative. While it is great to have a neighborhood school, the students who pass through the Maricopa Meadows’ common areas have used the walls to imprint their graffiti and have found the sprinkler heads tempting to kick. This costs the HOA. So, they adapted. They have changed the hours that the sprinklers are in use so they are not out when students are around. They have their volunteers to paint over the graffiti, but they let the police know so the information can be accessed when the culprits are caught. They’ve taken ownership and refuse to be victims.
Mother Nature has also made things tougher for the Maricopa Meadows community. Sodium sulfite, a naturally occurring chemical, has the potential to erode foundations. “A lot” has been found in the soil of Maricopa Meadows according to several sources. Not dangerous, it just corrodes like salt corrodes sidewalks when used to melt ice in the colder parts of the country. According to Price, one homeowner is in negotiations with his builder to have the condition “remediated.” It can be a costly fix, too, but the builders are insured for this type of situation.
Standard Pacific, according to Price, has stepped up to take care of the sulfite problem on houses they built. They are “putting sealant on the foundations to fix it…Their “willingness to fix things says a lot,” comments Price.
Another issue they tackled in 2007 was an incidence of Parvo virus, which can be dangerous for animals. Since Maricopa has been a rural area, the disease was present. The HOA put up warning signs and alerted people to get their animals, particularly young ones, vaccinated.
When the state mandated that Maricopa Meadows use reclaimed water for their attractive waterfalls, they had to push to meet deadlines. They were able to get Global Water to bury the pipe needed so they were in compliance.
Through all of the concerns, the HOA has kept “open lines of communication, made personal e-mails available,” and has been “out there serving the community 190%.”
Where they stand
With 1,537 homes built out of 1,626 (the build-out number), Maricopa Meadows is nearly completely built. What are left to build are 86 homes from Frontier and 3 from Elite. However, what has hurt the Meadows in this economic downturn has been the many investors who bought and abandoned their properties. With multiple builders in the development, a brake on investor activity was not there to prevent the investor dominance that can hurt a community.
Homes are selling well now with the larger homes netting 100% of the listing prices or a bit better for the largest homes, whose selling prices averaged $156,500. Since January, 103 homes were sold, 74 sales were pending, and 54 homes were active listings. Pending sale prices were a bit higher, which may mean things are starting to come back in terms of values.
Board member Celeste Interrante has been a Maricopa Meadows resident since December 2005 and “loves my neighborhood.” She knows all of her neighbors on a first-name basis.
Price summarizes Maricopa Meadows’ situation as having “challenges but a great sense of community.” They are right on top of the challenges and the sense of community grows stronger every day.
Four fans of their community at Maricopa Meadows' picturesque park. Seated: Tracy Campbell. Standing: Aaron Joe, Debbie, and Aaron Pulford.