Signs of progress are becoming more visible around town: Residents are flocking to events such as First Friday to fill the streets of historic downtown Globe; City parks have been cleaned up and refurbished; empty buildings on Broad Street are sprucing up with a variety of new businesses, and long-term projects such as the soon-to-open community pool and the replacement of essential bridges are getting shovels in the ground.
Thanks to several years of planning and a Council, staff and administration that share common goals, the City of Globe is well on its way to implementing its strategic action plan (SAP), with visions for future economic growth and quality of life improvements for residents.
The most recent SAP was approved in 2019 and covered a 3-year period through 2022, but in the midst of that set of “goals and objectives,” the COVID pandemic halted progress for a time and the following year, fire and floods further drew city administrators’ attention from implementing its goals.
But now, the city has regained footing and is building momentum on projects that have been in the works for several years.
“Sometimes residents aren’t aware of all that is being done, and now we’re starting to see it visually around the community,” says Mayor Al Gameros. “Connie’s Bridge replacement is getting underway, and the Community Center pool project is nearing completion, but these things don’t happen overnight.”
While creating a more diverse economy tops the list of priorities for Globe’s leadership, improved public safety, infrastructure development, and blight reduction are all interconnected to help achieve those goals to create a better quality of life for residents and visitors alike.
Infrastructure that lays the groundwork for more housing options will also allow future members of the workforce to live in the community where they work and draw needed professionals to critical jobs in the Copper Corridor.
One of the main areas of investment for the City has been in public safety, both in the police and fire departments. Under the leadership of Police Chief Dale Walters, the Globe Police Department has stabilized after years of turnover in both officers ranks and administration.
“We’ve worked hard to build up public safety,” Gameros says. “It’s 60% of our budget and an important piece of the quality of life we’re trying to create for our residents.”
Public safety improvements include increasing staffing levels, purchasing modern equipment and renovating or replacing city-owned buildings that are at least a century old.
Along with additional staffing, the GPD will soon implement a new virtual reality training system that will provide training to de-escalate potentially violent situations and deal with individuals who may be experiencing mental or emotional challenges.
With an eye toward dealing with the constant threat of wildfires and improving safety for both firefighters and residents, the Globe Fire Department has also received a big boost in recent years.
With the help of an Arizona Department of Homeland Security grant for $205,380, Council recently approved expenditures for the purchase of 800 MHz mobile and portable radios for GFD, Tri-City Fire and the Miami Police departments.
The project began in 2021 when local fire and police departments, as well as the Gila County Sheriff’s Department, applied for Homeland Security funding to standardize the regional radio system and give first responders access to modern equipment.
GFD Chief Gary Robinson told Council the system would enhance communication with other agencies during multi-departmental events such as the Telegraph Fire and help deal with the aftermath in the case of severe flooding.
What will become the most visible upgrade, though, is the impending construction of a new fire department on Ash Street to replace the current station that was built before Arizona became a state. The new building is essential to increased employee safety and to accommodate advances in technology over the past century.
To achieve that, the City is in the process of applying to USDA for a loan to build the station and to purchase a new wildland ladder truck to help fight what has become seasonal catastrophic fires in the region.
These projects represent about $10 million worth of investment but could not have been accomplished without the public and private partnerships the City has developed in recent years.
“We’ve built partnerships and developed relationships because people have the confidence that we can and will do the work we commit to,” says Mayor Gameros. “We’re excited to have the opportunity to increase our service to the community, but it takes a lot of work and planning.”
In addition to the focus on public safety, City leaders have also invested in creating a more welcoming atmosphere in Globe, addressing blight and improving the look and feel of the downtown area.
But one of the main focuses looking to the future is rebuilding crumbling infrastructure and paving the way for more family housing in one of the only places where that is possible, the northeast area towards the Gila County Fairgrounds.
Water infrastructure and sewer expansion — including sewer extension to the Community Center — are expected to connect the community from the Gila County Fairgrounds to Rayes Ridge, a subdivision in the early stages of development on 28.5 acres off Icehouse Road that was annexed by the City about three years ago. The creation of a modern sewer system will help see the city move forward with the development of single-family housing to draw young professionals and expand economic activity to Globe.
“We have a 100-year-old community, which is historical in nature, and we all appreciate that,” says Councilman Freddy Rios. “But we also understand that with aging infrastructure, aging housing, and blight issues, we can’t just look away: We have to address everything that’s underground and assess our ability to provide quality service to our citizens.”
Rios, a division manager for Arizona Water Company, has spent nearly 40 years on and under the ground, building and maintaining water systems throughout the state. He is also representative of a City Council that has a diverse makeup of professions and age groups working together towards a common goal.
In preparation for the upcoming 2023-2024 budget negotiations, Globe’s council members and department leaders gathered for their yearly planning retreat to discuss the future and gauge progress made in the past year.
The event was facilitated by Evelyn Casuga of Arizona Town Hall, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that “focuses on bringing diverse perspectives together to create consensus.”
Casuga has a long history of leadership in Arizona as city manager of the towns of Eloy and Marana, and in the Economic Development Department at Arizona Public Service. She says it was not difficult to create consensus within Globe’s leadership despite the diversity of age, experience and opinion within the group.
“We went into depth on pretty much all of these projects and there was a lot of unanimity among the council, and that’s not usual,” Casuga says. “Councils have their ups and downs, but Globe happens to be in the right time, the right place and with the right people. They understand the need for teamwork amongst themselves, as well as with the staff. It’s a wonderful story about how they’re going to get there, because they have that unified voice.”
Rios believes the Council reflects the diversity of the community, and the City’s efforts will eventually lead to creating an attractive place for people to come and thrive in whatever they endeavor.
“We have different groups of people that want modernization because we live in a modern world,” he says. “It’s reality and we have to be able to support that. If we don’t, they won’t live here. When I hear those voices and what they would like to see in their community, that’s an action plan for me and I think our council realizes that as well.”
Journalist, writer and editor who has worked for community newspapers for more than 15 years. After four years at Davis-Monthan AFB and a few years living in Tucson, moved to California to find his fortune. He is happy to be back in Arizona, in the mountains he loves.