Live chat: Queen Creek introduces new communications tool on Facebook

Queen Creek residents and others on May 27 participated in the town’s first live chat on Facebook. Public Works Director Troy White, above in a photo posted during the session on the town's Facebook page, answered questions about roads and other capital improvement projects. (Courtesy of town of Queen Creek)

Queen Creek residents and others on May 27 participated in the town’s first live chat on Facebook. Public Works Director Troy White, above in a photo posted during the session on the town’s Facebook page, answered questions about roads and other capital improvement projects. (Courtesy of town of Queen Creek)

The town of Queen Creek is a fan of social media. With more than 9,300 Facebook followers and nine platforms from which to choose — including Pinterest and Instagram — residents and the public-at-large have a variety of choices when it comes to staying on top of what is happening locally, Marnie Schubert, the town’s communications, marketing and recreation director, said during a phone interview.

On May 27, the town expanded its online reach by introducing its newest electronic communications tool — a live Facebook question-and-answer event. The online conversation provided people with an opportunity to ask questions in real time about local road construction, street maintenance and other relevant topics with Queen Creek Public Works Director Troy White.

The session began at 6:30 p.m. and lasted 30 minutes. Questions were asked live on the town’s Facebook page and Mr. White responded to them.

“This Q&A will give residents an opportunity to ask questions, as well as get information about on what goes on behind the scenes as improvements are planned,” according to a press release about the event.

Six people and the Queen Creek/San Tan Valley Independent participated in the live session. Another four added comments afterward.

(Editor’s note: The conversation text is posted at the end of this story.)

Ms. Schubert said she isn’t disappointed with the turnout.

“It went really well for the first time. This is something new we’re trying and while it started slow, it went well,” she said.

One reason for the small turnout might be because the town’s marketing department had decided not to promote the event as fully as it might an established activity, Ms. Schubert said. The live chat marked the first time the town used a special Q&A feature it had obtained and installed from Facebook after meeting the Internet giant’s governmental liaison director, Katie Harbath, at a conference, and the town staff members were unsure what to expect from the feature, she said.

“A ‘soft opening’ is a good way to describe it. We didn’t want to shout it from the rooftops in case it was glitchy. Troy was apprehensive at first about whether he could type fast enough to respond to the questions, and he wound up really enjoying it. In the future we’ll be promoting it a lot more,” she said.

“I loved the opportunity to connect directly to the residents and answer their questions regarding transportation in Queen Creek,” Mr. White said in an e-mailed response to questions.” I was impressed with the questions that were asked, and the participation we received. The questions were ones we don’t hear as often, and I was happy to share details about those projects. I’m looking forward to having additional Q&A sessions on Facebook, and hope to see residents at (the town’s annual) ice cream social on June 20 so I can answer more questions.”

Queen Creek resident Jon Wootten called the live chat a great concept.

“The town needs to do more of it,” Mr. Wootten said during a phone interview. “It’s almost as if this is another means of having neighborhood meetings.”

Mr. Wootten said he learned about the Facebook event shortly before it began and happened to be near his computer so he could participate. He said he hoped the town will get the word out sooner about future events.

“I think more people will participate; residents just need some more education and an explanation of how it works. Once people get used to it, it will be a great thing,” he said.

He said the time of day the event was held was appropriate,

Bob Downs lives in San Tan Valley but drives through Queen Creek a lot, he said in instant messages to the Independent via Facebook. That’s why he participated in the question-and-answer event, he said.

“Can’t get anywhere north of San Tan Valley (Chandler, Mesa, Gilbert, Higley, Tempe, Phoenix, Scottsdale, etc.) without going through Queen Creek. But a lot of merchants that we frequent are in Queen Creek and not San Tan Valley (Target, for example),” he said via Facebook.

He said he’d like the town to offer another live event and hopes a San Tan Valley organization will conduct a similar event about roads and other San Tan Valley departments in the future.

Ms. Schubert said the public works department was selected as the kick-off topic because of the large quantity of projects that will begin later this summer.

The department’s Capital Improvement Projects Division is responsible for the administration of the town’s CIP transportation infrastructure, including streets, culverts, railroad crossings, wastewater systems — sewer, reclaimed water, park trails, new buildings and drainage, according to the town’s website.

A list of the 15 current and upcoming projects appear on the website. Each listing includes a description, an update on its progress, maps or photos of the project site, future meetings about the project and contact information for more information.

The town does not have another live chat scheduled but is planning to conduct one in the near future, Ms. Schubert said. The topic will depend on what is happening in the town at that time, she said, saying the topic could be traffic or economic development. She said she will confer with the department heads to determine it.

“I think this is something we’ll be able to do on an ongoing basis. It is just another way to get information out there in a style people like,” Ms. Schubert said.

For more information, visit the town’s website or call 480-358-3000.

News Editor Wendy Miller can be reached by calling 480-982-7799 or e-mailing qcnews@newszap.com. Be sure to like us on Facebook.

Q&A from live chat on Facebook

The town of Queen Creek introduced its first live question-and-answer session on Facebook May 27.
People had an opportunity to ask questions in real time about local road construction, street maintenance and other relevant topics.

Here are the questions asked during the session and the people who asked them, along with responses from Queen Creek Public Works Director Troy White:

•Marianne Fulton: Hi, Mr. White. When do you think the town will begin working on any of the new park capital improvement projects?
Mr. White: Hi Marianne. We will soon be updating the town’s Five-Park Master Plan, and that will help us better determine the timing necessary to begin working toward building new parks and amenities.
We don’t have any specific schedule for our next park at this time.

•Dennis Fleming Sanderson: I’m curious why northbound Ellsworth, just north of Queen Creek and Ellsworth Loop, got a left-turn lane for the new housing area (and yet another set of traffic lights *sigh*) but it wasn’t continued at least up to the nursery. A busy day at the nursery can be just as dangerous as the housing development before that left-turn lane was added. Honestly, it couldn’t possibly cost that much more to go another quarter-mile.
Mr. White: The good news is we are currently in design of Ellsworth Road from Ryan to Germann that will include west side improvement. These include a center-turn lane, three southbound lanes, bike lanes, sidewalk and landscaping. Design should be done by the end of summer with construction starting mid-to-late fall.

•Queen Creek/San Tan Valley Independent: Where will the next few traffic signals be installed in Queen Creek?
Mr. White: Hi Wendy. We are going to be putting a permanent traffic signal at Rittenhouse and Hawes this year.
We will also be putting another traffic signal at Ocotillo and Power early next year as well as Ocotillo and Heritage Loop Road in the middle of 2016.

•Ryan Hardwick: Troy, are there any improvements for Rittenhouse going south past The Villages south to the Combs/Olive Mill intersection? This road needs to be four lanes. Thanks.
Mr. White: Hi Ryan, we are currently taking an intergovernmental agreement with Maricopa County to (the town) council on June 3 to begin the design of the Rittenhouse Bridge over the Queen Creek Wash.
The design and environmental clearance could take up to 18 months and we hope to start construction sometime there after.
Once the bridge has been replaced and changed from two lanes to four lanes, the road south of the bridge can then be widened as well.

•Tammy Murphy: Hi Troy, do you have a start date for the Ocotillo Road/Recker Road project? There is already a lot of traffic on that road.
Mr. White: Hi, Tammy. The Ocotillo Road from Power to Recker roads project is currently in the utility relocation phase that should be complete by the end of summer, at which time construction of the roadway will start.
This should take approximately 10 months to complete.

•Bob Downs: Hi, Troy. Thanks for opening up to questions here. Any new developments in getting that passenger/commuter train line running from Tucson through here?
Mr. White: Hi Bob, thanks for your question. Unfortunately there are no new updates we can share right now.
It is certainly a goal of the town to encourage regional transportation options through Queen Creek, including this commuter rail.
Our traffic engineering group represents Queen Creek on regional planning groups for this and many other projects.

•Jon Wootten: Hey Troy, thanks for taking the time. Will the Chandler Heights and Sossaman intersection improvements widen either street or just the intersection?
Mr. White: Hi Jon. Great question. It will only widen approximately 200-300 feet in each direction so we can get left and right turning movements at the intersection.
We will have a neighborhood meeting for those interested in more information on that project on Tuesday, June 2 at 6:30 p.m. at town hall.

•Queen Creek/San Tan Valley Independent: Which do you think is the most important capital improvement project that will take place during the next five years and why?
Mr. White: Each project has an impact to the folks who use those facilities.
Ellsworth Road and Rittenhouse Road are important due to the high traffic volume. Ocotillo Road from Power to Recker is also a significant project because it will be the only road in Queen Creek that will connect our east border from our west border uninterrupted.
Ocotillo Road from Ellsworth Loop Road to Heritage Loop Road is important for the town’s economic development efforts and the future of Town Center.

You are encouraged to leave relevant comments but engaging in personal attacks, threats, online bullying or commercial spam will not be allowed. All comments should remain within the bounds of fair play and civility. (You can disagree with others courteously, without being disagreeable.) Feel free to express yourself but keep an open mind toward finding value in what others say. To report abuse or spam, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box.