for preservation spares farming community
Wearing printed stickers reading "Save Historic Santa Maria," several dozen residents of the historic Hispanic farming community appeared at the South Mountain Citizens Advisory Team meeting Thursday to speak out against a freeway alignment threatening their homes - only to find that Santa Maria has been spared.
In July, planners told the advisory board that one potential alignment linking Interstate 10 to the lower portion of Loop 202 at 71st Avenue would clip the northwestern corner of the 88-acre unincorporated community, impacting about 20 of the 130 homes there.
After that meeting, the state Historic Preservation Office determined that the community is eligible for historic preservation, requiring the Arizona Department of Transportation to seek alternatives to avoid it. ADOT shifted the 71st Avenue alignment to the west to avoid Santa Maria, ADOT spokesman Matt Burdick said.
Officials at the meeting apologized for overlooking the community's residents, most of whom left once assured Santa Maria was safe.
"I'm so relieved," said Rose Hernandez, 69, who moved to Santa Maria when she was 9 and came to the meeting with her brother, Marcelino Hernandez, to speak on behalf of the community.