New Queen Creek municipal center’s look should be progressive while holding down bottom line, council says

The Queen Creek Town Council is expected to vote July 15 on whether to approve moving forward with the construction of a new fire station, in an early artist’s rendering above, to replace fire station No. 411 across from Queen Creek Town Hall; as well as a new public safety building and council chambers as part of its Municipal Center Master Plan. At the same meeting, the council will introduce a new meeting agenda that incorporates both the work session and regular meeting. (Courtesy of town of Queen Creek)

The Queen Creek Town Council is expected to vote July 15 on whether to approve moving forward with the construction of a new fire station, in an early artist’s rendering above, to replace fire station No. 411 across from Queen Creek Town Hall; as well as a new public safety building and council chambers as part of its Municipal Center Master Plan. At the same meeting, the council will introduce a new meeting agenda that incorporates both the work session and regular meeting. (Courtesy of town of Queen Creek)

Queen Creek Mayor Gail Barney wants the town’s new municipal center to look good but he doesn’t want to pay a premium price to make that happen.

Mayor Barney and other members of the Queen Creek Town Council made that point clear during a video recording of a discussion of architectural styles for the center that took place at the council’s June 17 meeting. It was held at Queen Creek Town Hall, 22350 S. Ellsworth Road.

The video can be viewed on the town’s website.

“I don’t want to pick a style that (costs) substantially more than another style just because I like the looks of it. I’d rather go function over form,” the mayor said before adding he felt some municipal buildings in other communities went overboard or were too extreme in their designs.

Queen Creek’s Municipal Center Master Plan is part of the larger, long-term Town Center Plan, which generally includes the area between Rittenhouse Road to the Queen Creek Wash and Hawes Road to Crismon Road, according to the town’s website.

When completed, the Municipal Center Master Plan will include state-of-the-art buildings to house public safety and the fire department administration, courts, a conference center and council chambers, along with the existing municipal services building and Queen Creek Town Hall.

The city approved $16,354,751 for the project as part of its 2015-16 budget, Constance Halonen-Wilson, the town’s public information officer, said in an e-mailed response to questions.

The budget was developed based on the master plan update effort from 2013, she said.

The new buildings will be constructed on the existing municipal center campus at 22350 S. Ellsworth Road, according to the town’s website.

During the June 17 meeting, Erik Thomsen, senior designer for Perlman Architects, the Phoenix-based firm that is designing the Municipal Center, presented the council with three style options to consider for the center. They were:

•Traditional: Mr. Thomsen said on the recording that the buildings would be very simple structures that citizens see in Queen Creek. They would be made from very simple materials and would fit in with the community.

•Modern ranch: Mr. Thomsen said the lines of the simple structures would resemble those of the current buildings. He said their style would outwardly indicate “something new in something old,” indicating a forward-thinking community that still has ties to its roots. They would be constructed with concrete, brick, block, stone and possibly heavy timber.

•Desert modern: Mr. Thomsen said this design is similar in look to the Queen Creek Branch Library, 21802 S. Ellsworth Road. He said the design goes outside the envelope with sleek new shapes and colors that would be harmonious with other buildings.

Mr. Thomsen told the council he and Perlman Senior Director Gerrald Adams, who also was present at the meeting, hoped to get the council’s blessing on a couple of styles that they could design to.

Mr. Adams told the council on the recording that he and Mr. Thomsen would present two complete design proposals at a future meeting so the council members could see how they interact with each other.

Mr. Thomsen said it could be beneficial to decide on different styles that share core elements and could coexist with other buildings on the Municipal Center campus.

He said it was important for the council to identify an overall style that’s appropriate for the facility that could be merged with the existing and future buildings and still connect to Queen Creek’s heritage.

“One thing to consider is how does the council view its city?” he asked on the video. “If it’s rooted in history, if it’s progressive and rooted in the future, these things can be portrayed in architecture.”

Vice Mayor Julia Wheatley and council members Dawn Oliphant, Robin Benning and Jeff Brown told Mr. Thomsen they liked the combination of traditional and modern ranch styles.

“I prefer the traditional and modern ranch style from a form standpoint as they pay homage to what has been here historically,” Councilman Brown said on the video.

“I like the style where we’re headed, but some styles are more extreme. Do you feel they would tie together nicely?” Vice Mayor Wheatley asked Mr. Thomsen on the video.

“It’s definitely a challenge but by using similar colors and materials, the overall landscape design can make a nice cohesive campus,” Mr. Thomsen said.

He said giving each building its own design personality will make the individual buildings easier for visitors to find.

At their July 15 meeting, the council is expected to review a presentation of a draft master plan, according to a presentation at the June 17 council meeting by Tracy Corman, assistant to the town manager for Queen Creek.

The council does not expect the design plans to be presented until the fall, Ms. Halonen-Wilson said.

Ms. Corman said on the video that it was important for council members to decide whether to build new council chambers at this time because the design team will begin working soon on a schematic design for the Municipal Center Master Plan.

Making changes after the schematic design is completed would cost the town additional money.

The council’s discussion July 15 will include whether to move forward with not only the council chambers but also the fire station and public safety building, depending on if council members believe the funding that has been budgeted should be spent at this time on construction, Vice Mayor Wheatley said during a phone interview July 1.

The fire station would replace the aging fire station No. 411, which is across the street from Queen Creek Town Hall.

She said the money has been approved as part of the town’s capital improvement budget but added the council must “balance the needs of our community today with what would benefit the taxpayers the best,” she said.

“We could vote against all three or say we’re ready right now,” the vice  mayor said. “The consideration for me is that public safety is No. 1, it’s at the top of my priorities. The fire station as well as the public safety building are very important.”

Vice Mayor Wheatley said she could favor a proposal by Mr. Thomsen to construct one building to house both the public safety department and council chambers because of the economy of scale that it presents.

“They would share a lobby, security, an IT room, bathrooms and a parking lot, all those types of rooms that would be needed by each building,” she said.

For more information about the Queen Creek Town Council and to view meeting agendas, visit the town’s website or call 480-358-3000.

Council agendas are posted online on the Thursday before a meeting, Ms. Halonen-Wilson said.

Queen Creek council to institute new meeting format July 15

The Queen Creek Town Council has changed the flow of its meeting agenda and will introduce the new format at its July 15 meeting at the Queen Creek Town Hall, 22350 S. Ellsworth Road.

Up until now, the town council held work study sessions at 5:30 p.m. and regular session meetings at 7 p.m. on the first and third Wednesdays of the month. Starting July 15, the two will be presented as one meeting that will start at 5:30 p.m.

The agenda changes are designed to move routine business, executive session and items that are not being heard for final action to the 5:30 p.m. start time, according to a press release.

Items under the Public Hearing and Final Action categories will continue to start at 7 p.m. to ensure consistency for the public comment and input portions of the agenda, according to the release.

“The council and I appreciate the feedback we receive from residents and business owners in the community,” Mayor Gail Barney said in the release. “By moving the final action portion of our agenda to start consistently at 7 p.m., we hope to encourage even more participation.”

Town council meetings are broadcast live on the town’s website and on the Ustream.tv website. Recordings of previous meetings are available on the town’s website.

News Editor Wendy Miller can be contacted at 480-982-7799 and via e-mail at qcnews@newszap.com, or follow her on Twitter @WendyNewszap123.

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