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Litter can be seen scattered along a stretch of Old Nogales Highway. 

When it comes to keeping the roadways clean and maintained in Sahuarita, the town is responsible for any area not privately owned.

The Public Works Department gets assistance for roadway cleanups and maintenance from volunteers in its Adopt-a-Roadway program, but COVID-19 temporarily halted the program and has limited how many volunteers can work at one time.

Town spokesman Mark Febbo said Adopt-A-Roadway work was suspended from March 9 to May 6 due to the pandemic. The first volunteer crew returned May 8.

“There are about 30 contacts on our volunteer list and they do all work during the daylight hours,” Febbo said. “Since the return to accepting help from volunteers in May, the town has required that groups be limited to no more than 10 volunteers and that everyone practice physical distancing from each other during work.”

Adopt-A-Road volunteers typically do roadside cleanups like trash disposal, but sometimes help with other roadway maintenance tasks.

“Safety is a primary concern for us with enlisting the help of volunteers," Febbo said. "A lot of road maintenance tasks that public works does, other than roadside cleanup, do require a Town of Sahuarita employee and expertise with road work.”

Febbo said any resident can file a maintenance request to the town through an online form or by phone, email or an in-person visit.

Since January, the town's public works department has received 47 maintenance requests, including trash, traffic signals, damaged signs, road hazards and others.

He said they typically receive a few requests each month and it fluctuates based on variables like weather. 

When an illegal dumping site pops up, the responsibility of the cleanup goes to the actual property owner.

“We don’t monitor the town for things like this, but when such a site is reported to us, or a complaint is submitted, representatives from our planning and building department would verify the complaint and then contact the property owner and advise them about clean up," Febbo said. 

If the property owner does not comply, they could face a citation, though it's rare it moves to that step in Sahuarita.

Planning and Building Director Sarah More said enforcement is not the goal. 

“We would go through the code enforcement process which involves several steps: inspection of the sight, letter to property owner, notice of violation if not addressed within a certain timeframe and potentially citation," she said. "But, our goal is to get compliance not to cite them.”

Planning and Zoning Manager Anna Casadei said they typically only receive a few cases of illegal dumping each year and though they don’t often need to go to the code enforcement process, they have in the past.

“The process usually doesn’t go far – we are typically successful with just a friendly letter sent to the property owner letting them know that there is an issue,” she said. “Most of the time, the commercial property owners are not aware that dumping has occurred and they get it cleaned up right away.”

There were several sites that went through the code enforcement process this year.

To report any type of roadway or public infrastructure concern, visit www.bit.ly/3c2bihO or contact public works at 344-7100. Those interested in volunteering with Adopt-a-Roadway can apply online at www.bit.ly/3hzf8jB

Jamie Verwys | 520-547-9728 

Reporter

Reporter Jamie Verwys grew up in Sahuarita and graduated from the high school in 2006. She lives in Tucson and graduated from the University of Arizona with a bachelor’s degree in journalism in 2018.