More open space and parking.
Citing a need for both, members of the Queen Creek Town Council voted in favor of returning a proposed conceptual plan for the new $17 million West Park recreation area to the town’s Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee for further study.
The action took place during the council’s Sept. 21 regular meeting held at Queen Creek Town Hall, 22350 S. Ellsworth Road.
Mayor Gail Barney and council members Craig Barnes, Robin Benning, Jeff Brown, Emilena Turley and Julia Wheatley voted to return the design. Vice Mayor Dawn Oliphant was not present.
“I’d rather do it right the first time than look at something and say, ‘oh now we’re going to do something on the other side and we should have done it a little bit different (in the first place),’” Councilman Barnes said.
The proposed West Park will use 30 acres of a 78-acre site that is part of the town’s Parks and Recreation Five-Park Master Plan. The larger site is generally bounded by Queen Creek Road to the north, Ocotillo Road to the south, Sossaman Road to the west and Hawes Road to the east, according to the town’s website.
Design and funding
It would be funded through impact fees designed specifically for parks. In 2012, state legislation restricted the use of impact fees for new parks to 30 acres and eliminated the use of impact fees to fund recreational centers larger than 3,000 square feet, aquatic centers and community pools, among other amenities, according to the town’s website.
The design includes lighted youth baseball/softball fields, a lighted multi-purpose field that can be used for soccer, football and other sports, a playground, splash pad, walking trail and restrooms and concessions.
A skate park is adjacent to the promenade where it is visible and easily accessible from the parking lots.
The design was created by Phoenix-based Sherman Design Studios.
The estimated project cost is $17 million. Of that, $13.4 million for park improvements would be paid for by impact fees received after Aug. 1, 2014, according to a presentation made at the Sept. 21 meeting by Queen Creek Recreation Superintendent Adam Robinson.
An additional $450,000 for a splash pad would be paid for with park impact fees received before Aug. 1, 2014.
The $1.9 million estimated for streets would be paid for by street impact fees and a 2 percent dedicated construction sales tax. The $1.3 million estimated to construct the water and wastewater infrastructure would be paid for using water and wastewater capacity fees or savings from the water and wastewater fund.
The 30-acre parcel is at 196th Street and Appleby Road, near Ocotillo and Sossaman roads. It would be developed over 1.5 years, with completion tentatively scheduled for summer 2018, according to Mr. Robinson’s presentation.
The town solicited input from residents when determining what to incorporate into the site. It discussed the project during a Parks and Recreation Master Plan public forum held Aug. 6. In addition, it conducted an online poll July 14-Aug. 15 during which 803 people — 615 of whom said they were Queen Creek residents — participated, Mr. Robinson said.
The design content also is based on the town’s Parks, Trails and Open Space Master Plan and the use of the town’s existing facilities, according to the town’s website.
Conceptual designs for the park were reviewed by members of the Queen Creek Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee. The PRAC is composed of elected officials (council members Wheatley and Barnes serve on the committee) and town residents.
Its purpose is to assist and advise parks and recreation department staff, according to the town’s website.
The PRAC also acts in an advisory capacity to the town council in the development and continuing review of goals and objectives for Queen Creek’s parks, trails and open spaces as well as recreational programs and events.
The conceptual design addresses the town’s immediate needs for additional recreational space as well as future amenities, a natural progression to a future lake area, its frontage with Queen Creek Wash and a direct connection to the wash trail.
In addressing the conceptual design, Councilman Barnes suggested moving the centrally located parking areas to the open acreage immediately west of the park site.
“Let’s build 30 acres of park and put the parking on the other side in case we eventually do an aquatic center…,” Councilman Barnes said while indicating to the design projected on a screen in the council chambers. “And so as we build for the future, we can move a couple of the things that we need to over here. That gives more room over here for the horses where the trailhead is… without a bicycle track right next to it. I’d like to see if council would be agreeable with me to send it back with those recommendations to PRAC and see what they have to say about it.”
Councilman Barnes also questioned whether the proposed design provided enough warm-up space for teams waiting to use the ballfields. He also mentioned law enforcement requests to have the skate park situated closer to the road so deputies could view it easier while on patrol.
Councilman Benning questioned whether West Park would be able to accommodate parking for special events.
“As you and your department think about this next park, know how much Desert Mountain Park is loved and used very heavily,” Councilman Benning said.
He said the town does a good job planning for parking at businesses but not always for events such as Trunk or Treat.
He asked if there is a parking solution for large community events.
Mr. Robinson said his department bases its parking needs by a park’s acreage and uses, noting West Park is similar is size and proposed uses as Desert Mountain Park, 22201 S. Hawes Road.
He said West Park’s parking is designed for heavy use.
“We can have four games going on and eight teams waiting, and that’s just baseball,” Mr. Robinson said.
He said special events is a different issue and they are moved to a larger location as they outgrow existing parks.
He said the focus for West Park will not be special events.
Councilman Barnes asked if the park’s interior could include enough American Disabilities Act-compliant parking spaces and still maximize its green spaces.
Mr. Robinson said it could.
Councilman Barnes then asked how long the project might be delayed if the conceptual design were returned to the PRAC.
Mr. Robinson said he estimated the delay would be 2.5 months.
“As much as I hate taking a couple steps back, I really like where we’re going,” Councilwoman Wheatley said, “and I think for the betterment of the park and this project, I think ‘we’re heading in the right direction.’”
The PRAC generally meets quarterly (March, June, September and December) and more often, if needed, at 6 p.m. in the town’s Municipal Services Building, For more information, visit the town’s website.
The Queen Creek Town Council meets at 5:30 p.m. on the first and third Wednesdays of the month at town hall. Public hearings are not scheduled before 7 p.m.