Sahuarita is changing, and town officials want to plan according to its residents' desires.
Town officials conducted a survey to find out what people value, what they'd like to change in the future, and how to shape government policy to meet those needs.
Sahuarita was formed in 1994, and has been one of the faster-growing towns in the Tucson metropolitan area. Its 26,000 residents are a mix of long-time homesteaders, living in homes that have been around for generations, and young families moving into newly built neighborhoods.
Sahuarita is about 20 miles from downtown Tucson, and about 50 miles from the U.S.-Mexico border.
The surveys have helped, Sahuarita Mayor Duane Blumberg, because, oftentimes, it is hard to get feedback from residents.
“It has been a surprise to me, since I’ve been on the council, how little public input we receive,” Blumberg said. Excluding strong opinions on bigger issues, such as the proposed Rosemont copper mine, or a proposed annexation of the Green Valley Fire District.
Sherri Corbin, a Sahuarita resident, said she agreed with one of the mayor's suggestions: adding more public swimming pools. Corbin also said she would like to see a bigger local library branch.
She said she enjoys the swimming pool in her Rancho Sahuarita neighborhood, one of the private neighborhoods in the town, but she agreed with one of the mayor’s suggestions: more public swimming pools. She also said she’d like to see a bigger local library branch.
Economic development, bringing more jobs for the growing population of the area, is one of Blumberg's goal. Such priority reflected in the survey, in which 80 percent of the respondents said they valued economic development.
“I think this reflects a growing recognition that a lot of people who live here are working in Tucson," Blumberg said. "They would like to have job opportunities in town that are commensurate with their job experience, which we don't have."
The mayor would like to start what he calls “primary businesses,” which he said is an economic development term for businesses that don’t rely on a customer base where they are located.
For instance, the pecan groves in Sahuarita, run by a company named the Farmer’s Investment Company. The business is in the town, and revenues go to local employees and the local economy, but the business isn’t dependent on local people buying the pecans, Blumberg said.
There are other things the survey showed the town should focus on, or reiterated a priority it already had, Blumberg said.