On Saturday, Aug. 18, a small crowd gathered on a dusty soccer field in the Valley of the Sun Estates near San Tan Valley. It was a big day and the reason for the celebration was something that most people take for granted: the paving of streets, creation of storm water drainage, trash removal and other improvements throughout the community.
Residents brought coolers, lawn chairs, music and dishes of delicious home-cooked meals and desserts. Together they walked several blocks of the community on a newly paved street and then shared a festive meal together.
For the past two years, residents here have come together with the assistance of Pan de Vida Foundation, a nonprofit based in Queen Creek. The community has had many problems with continual flooding, lack of drainage and dust issues.
According to Pinal County, the development was created in the early 1960s, before the current building regulations were in place and lots without improvements could be sold. Requirements for developers to actually construct improvements were not in place until the late 70s and early 80s.
Without proper drainage, the roads within the community become impassable and houses can be and are flooded. Many residents here do not have homeowners’ insurance or are renting properties. During dry periods, dust is a continual breathing hazard, which in turn aggravates asthma and skin issues.
Mary Gloria is the president and founder of Pan de Vida, one of Queen Creek’s most recognized nonprofits. Gloria has been active in the Queen Creek area for over nine years and works to improve the lives of people by educating, supporting and organizing community-based action and change.
According to Gloria, “The people in this community were getting ill from the flooding, dust and accumulation of trash that was collecting in the area. We decided to come into the community and try to educate and involve the residents in order to create a better life and healthier community for themselves and their children.”
Pan de Vida has also been working closely with Pinal County Public Works Department, which is taking on an active part in developing and following through with plans to create a drainage basin with culverts and dams to follow and has already laid down a double chip-seal on several streets. Funding for the projects comes from the Pinal County Flood Control District and the Pinal County .5 percent transportation excise tax.
“I am so proud of the residents here, they have really pulled together and made a difference for each other,” Gloria said. “This is the type of community spirit that really inspires me to continue my work.”
Bridgette Crosby is a writer who lives in and loves the Queen Creek/San Tan Valley area. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.