ASU faculty and students help Apache Junction develop local histories and plans for a sustainable future

Author

Devin R. Larsen

Contributors

Steve Russell, Marshall Curry

Metrics

Community
Apache Junction, Arizona, USA
Community Size
41,739 (2018 Census Estimation)
University
Arizona State University
Program
Project Cities
Years
2017-2019
Status
Completed
Case Type
Community Partnership
School Size
Greater than 40,000
Focus Areas
Economic and Social Inclusion, Environment Sustainability
Discipline
Art, Design, GIS, History, Landscape Architecture, Planning, Public Affairs, Public Relations, Sustainability, Theater, Urban and Regional Planning, Waste
Region
EPA Region 9, USA
Community Partner Department
Budget, Community Relations, Economic Development, Parks and Recreation, Public Works
Policy
History, Land Use, Mobile Home Owners, Parks, Place Making, Public Policy, Solid Waste, Sustainability, Theater
University Department Code
Architecture, Communication, Graphic Design, History, Public Affairs, Theater, Urban and Regional Planning
Sustainable Development Goals
11 Sustainable Cities and Communities, 16 Peace Justice and Strong Institutions, 6 Clean Water and Sanitation, 8 Decent Work and Economic Growth
Community Population Sizes
41739 (2018 Census Estimation)
Population Type
Business Owners and Consumers, Government Employees, Home Insecure, Home Owners, Pet Owners, Residents

A relatively young city rich in natural resources, assets, and Western histories, the City of Apache Junction has a lot to offer to their residents and tourists. However, local concerns surrounding seasonal tourism, homelessness, and solid waste management led the city to consider ways they could improve the overall experience for their entire population.

Apache Junction partnered with Arizona State University’s (ASU) Project Cities to dive into these issues and more. As member of the EPIC-Network, Project Cities “connects higher education with local communities” (ASU Project Cities) to co-create sustainable solutions which progress cities toward a better future. Apache Junction invited 12 ASU faculty, and 213 graduate-, and undergraduate-level students, to bring the university’s expertise and resources to assist the city in its goal to reach a more sustainable future, all while celebrating its local history.

Watch the video about the partnership between Project Cities and Apache Junction!

THREE Student Dog Park Designs Catalyze Construction

Students and faculty from varying ASU Project Cities courses, including public affairs, history, landscape architecture design, digital user experience, community-based theater, socio-economic planning, and sustainability management and organizing, were integrated into Apache Junction research and development efforts to construct plans for the city. 

Over the course of their Fall 2017-Spring 2019 partnership, Apache Junction accessed the potential and academic expertise which allowed them to advance toward actualizing their goal of providing a better life experience for their residents and tourists.

University Capital

Classes 13 Classes
Students 213 Students
Hours 28,485 Hours
Disciplines 12 Disciplines
Projects 16 Projects
Faculty Members 12 Faculty Members
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"What we needed help with is trying to refine what's best for our community."

The twelve projects completed during the partnership with ASU Project Cities ranged from sustainable water and waste management systems to the redevelopment of the city website. A few of the most notable results, as witnessed by city residents and officials, include the following: 

Testable ideas to increase municipal revenue were developed by public affairs graduate-level students, which included plans such as restructuring recreation fees and introducing a primary property tax to pay off bonded debts.  

Three designs and budgetary allocation plans to develop Apache Junction resident’s long-desired off-leash dog parks were implemented thanks to a combination of communal surveying and field observations.

Four website revisions to help the City determine site updates for the city’s tourism website.

Students researched and refined historical narratives significant to Apache Junction in support of the City’s Positively Apache Junction marketing campaign, which sought to improve its cultural image both for residents and tourists alike. Students created community-theater plays, artistic exhibits, and commemorative plaques which highlighted remarkable locations, events, and tales from the City’s history.

Pathways toward a more sustainable future, including the implementation of a single hauler solid waste pickup program for residents and introducing resource strategies to diversify water sources, were developed by students which sought to include community members in the municipal decision-making process concerning environmental issues.

Students identified how the city could allocate resources and tailor services to combat homelessness. Furthermore, research was conducted to determine what resources the homeless population most needed, along with accumulating educational information to improve public awareness.

Community Results

Community Satisfaction

“The City of Apache Junction was extremely fortunate to be the inaugural city for the Project Cities program. The city, community residents, ASU students, faculty and staff worked on a total of nine different projects.”

Return on Investment

"All of the projects and studies paid high dividends to the community."

Sustainable Path Forward

"The city is moving forward with awarding a contract to a single hauler based on the RFP and Ordinance amendments that ASU students assisted the city in drafting."

Prestige & Recognition

Covered in The State Press and The Apache Junction/Gold Canyon News.

Social/Cultural Inclusion

"You know 5 or 6 students looking at the same issue from five different perspectives, really helped us a lot."

Governance

"The City of Apache Junction was extremely fortunate to be the inaugural city for the Project Cities program. The city, community residents, ASU students, faculty and staff worked on a total of nine different projects."

Environmental Sustainability

"The solid waste and recycling project which was done over several years and classes directed the city to a more sustainable method of solid waste and recycling collection and disposal."

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With the findings and recommendations provided by the participating ASU Project Cities courses, faculty, and students, Apache Junction has obtained information that could help them improve the lives of every citizen and tourist of the city. By engaging local municipality officials, invested stakeholders, and long-time residents with the participating university students, Apache Junction may be able to provide its population—both year-round and seasonal—with a healthier, more sustainable, and culturally rich future. 

 

Arizona State University Project Cities Contact
Steve Russell
Program Manager
(480) 727-2698
steven.russell@asu.edu

City of Apache Junction Contact
Larry Kirch
Director
Development Services
lkirch@ajcity.net
480-474-5082

“The solid waste and recycling project which was done over several years and classes directed the city to a more sustainable method of solid waste and recycling collection and disposal."