Incoming Marana deputy town manager will help ready city for population 'close to 200,000' in coming decades

2014-03-06T00:00:00Z Incoming Marana deputy town manager will help ready city for population 'close to 200,000' in coming decadesBy Phil Villarreal Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

Marana has tabbed Jamsheed Mehta to serve as its next deputy town manager.

Mehta, a native of Pakistan who currently works as Glendale’s executive director for transportation services, starts March 17.

He replaces Del Post, who took the position in 2011 and resigned in September.

Mehta, 54, earned a master’s degree in urban planning from the University of Kansas and a bachelor’s in civil engineering from NED University of Engineering in Karachi, Pakistan. He’s worked in Glendale for eight and a half years.

Along with his wife, Zarin, Mehta is looking for a home in the area.

We spoke with Mehta about his background, goals and first impressions of Marana.

Q: Why did the position interest you?

A: My motivation is to be involved in local city government, especially in a high-growth area such as Marana.

It’s something I have experienced here in Glendale in the past, and it’s just the kind of environment I’m prepared to work in.

Q: What are your first impressions of Marana?

A: It’s obviously limited to what I could garner from material I’ve read and things that I’ve noticed while I was there for a few days.

Obviously, in the general area of the Tucson metropolitan area, the quadrant of the northwest is where it’s anticipated that most of the growth will occur.

Marana is strategically located, and a lot of growth will happen, which comes with challenges associated with it. Is the infrastructure there? Is it all sustainable? That’s the kind of work that generates my desire to be there.

Q: How often do you make it back to Pakistan?

A: I haven’t been there in several years. I have been in the United States since 1984.

Q: Do you think you’ll live in Marana?

A: I’m going to discover a whole lot when I’m there. It might take a while to figure it out, but if that’s convenient, yes.

Q: What qualifies you for this job?

A: I have worn many hats. I’m an engineer, and am a long-range urban planner by training. I have been involved with everything associated with planning a development and infrastructure programming. Most of that revolves around long-range, sustainable development.

I’ve been involved with transportation planning, working with regional-planning agencies.

Essentially my background is to see that long-range planning is sustainable.

Q: How would you like to see Marana grow?

A: There is a lot of growth that’s going to happen. I want to make sure that things that are done in the short term make neighborhoods out of new subdivisions.

To turn into a mature city, it shouldn’t be done by accident; it should really be by design.

Q: How does Marana compare to Glendale?

A: What Glendale was probably three decades ago — maybe two decades ago — is what Marana is experiencing today. What I do know for certain is that many problems in Glendale could have been avoided.

I’ll present the caution and wisdom needed when in a high-paced growth area.

Some people tend not to look at some of the details that come with that experience.

That’s what I particularly want to make sure the community doesn’t do. I want a guided vision.

Q: What sort of problems are you hoping to avoid?

A: A city’s investment needs to be such that, whatever we put into it, we do recover in the long run. And that we make sure the infrastructure is there for future growth.

Q: How do you see Marana developing over the years?

A: Marana’s population is approximately 40,000. It’s likely that in a few decades it will be close to 200,000.

But it takes resources, and without that level of resources, the vision will never be achieved.

It’s a balance between the fiscal capacity of the city and viable resources.

Water, obviously, is one of the natural features that’s going to be a challenge.

Do we have sufficient volumes of water? Do we have water rights?

We have to be able to continue our revenue streams we have day-to-day, and prepare versus other opportunities for revenue in the future.

Contact reporter Phil Villarreal at 573-4130 or pvillarreal@azstarnet.com

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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