Queen Creek celebrates reopening of Ellsworth Road in Town Center with community block party Feb. 28

Ellsworth Road in downtown Queen Creek will be shut down Saturday, Feb. 28, for a community party that will transform the Town Center into the town’s first community-wide block party complete with live entertainment, a kids zone, zip line and beer garden.
The Queen Creek Block Party has been scheduled to celebrate the reopening of Ellsworth Road, which has been widened from two to four lanes, relandscaped and decorated with lighting and other features, according to the town’s website: www.queencreek.org/blockparty. Ellsworth Road between Heritage Road and Ocotillo Road will be closed to motorized traffic 9 a.m.-10 p.m. that day for the event, Mark Clark, the town’s public information officer, said during a phone interview Feb. 18.

“I believe this is the first time the town is closing down the streets and putting a major stage in the intersection. We will have a zip line going right down Victoria Lane. We will have X Games riders putting on a BMX and skateboard stunt show. And this is the first time the town is allowing a beer garden at the town event,” David Horen, vice president of special events at Scottsdale-based R Entertainment Co., the group producing the block party, said in an e-mailed response to questions.

Town staff has estimated the community party will cost $38,000 and will generate $15,000, Mr. Clark said in an e-mailed response to questions.

The party will offer entertainment for all ages, according to the town’s website. Planned are concerts by country-rock band Chad Freeman and Redline and Nashville recording artist and Arizona-native Laura Walsh and entertainment by local talent. There will be an interactive kids zone with a 40-foot inflatable obstacle course, 18-foot-long slide and a toddler bounce house; a mechanical bull; carnival games; laser tag; yoga, street vendors and food trucks.

Proceeds from the beer garden will benefit Friends of Horseshoe Park. The latter is a nonprofit organization that is dedicated to supporting the Horseshoe Park and Equestrian Centre, 20464 E. Riggs Road in Queen Creek, and promoting the rural heritage of Queen Creek, according to its website: www.friendsofhorseshoepark.org/.

About 20 vendors had registered for booths in the party area, Mr. Clark said. The cost of a vendor space starts at $150 for a 10-foot by 10-foot space. A $50 discount is being offered for Queen Creek Chamber of Commerce members and Shop Queen Creek businesses.

Shop Queen Creek is a town program that encourages local shopping. Participating businesses receive a listing on the town’s website, promotional support through the town’s social media channels and access to a variety of marketing and promotional opportunities available via partner and town-sponsored events and programs, according to the town’s website at www.queencreek.org/business/shop-queen-creek.

Attendees also may purchase discounted carnival tickets to the Roots N’ Boots rodeo. The fifth annual event will take place March 6-8 at Horseshoe Park and Equestrian Centre. For more information, visit http://rootsnboots.org/.

On Dec. 23, the town marked the completion of the Ellsworth Road improvements with a ribbon-cutting ceremony. At that time, the town’s website noted the project represented “a pivotal point in the Town Center plan, offering an ideal venue for block parties and other outdoor events.” The town’s online invitation to the ribbon-cutting ceremony called it “a new era for the Town Center.”

The block party is the first of what town officials hope will be many activities to take place in the Town Center, Chris Webb, former chairman of the Town Center Committee, said during a phone interview.

The committee was formed in January 2009 to help guide development in the Town Center, according to the town’s website. The Town Center encompasses 900 acres of commercial, entertainment and housing options whose epicenter is the intersection of Ellsworth and Ocotillo roads; it is envisioned to serve as a gathering place for residents and an economic engine for business development.

“Our vision was a combination of objectives. We wanted to create a more walkable Town Center, We also wanted to move traffic more efficiently and safely through the Town Center and beautify the downtown corridor,” Mr. Webb said.

The downtown Ellsworth Road project took several years to finish from the earliest conversations to completion, Mr. Webb said. The concepts were developed by the committee, town staff and officials. The finished product had no major revisions from the original vision, he said.

Mr. Webb’s vision of the downtown area was formulated when he moved his family from Gilbert to Queen Creek 11 years ago. Living on the west boundary of the town, he felt like he was caught between Queen Creek and Gilbert, he said.

“This was before there were shopping centers in Queen Creek. When we needed groceries and entertainment, we’d go to Gilbert and as a resident of Queen Creek, that bothered me,” he said. “I wanted to get involved to help create and grow a Town Center that would attract and keep residents in the town.”

The project strikes the right balance between maintaining the rural feel for which the community is known while meeting the needs of a growing population, Mr. Webb said. Over the next few years, the improvements will help facilitate the conversion of many of the older residences along Ellsworth Road in the downtown area into commercial sites, a process that already has begun.

“We’re looking at the Ellsworth Road improvements as a whole, in its totality. There’s the Communiversity at Queen Creek that’s already there, the older residential properties converting into businesses, all of those key pieces are the building blocks for what the Town Center will become,” Mr. Webb said.

For more information about plans for the Town Center, visit the town’s website.

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