As Queen Creek awaits the opening of Costco, many of us are left to wonder if this town will maintain its same, small-town feel that people have come to expect.
Back in 1989, when Queen Creek was incorporated, the population was a mere 2,667 -- fewer than 3,000 people! And as time went on, that small number grew exponentially, going from less than 3,000 to about 68,500 today.
To accommodate this surprising growth, more local businesses opened, and national chains such as Walmart and Target popped up in the mid-2000s. However, as more and more people move in, and larger businesses set up shop in Queen Creek, we are all left to wonder if this will change the feel of Queen Creek. But I believe that Queen Creek will maintain its wonderful and unique feel due to the amenities that we have in our town.
A factor that definitely contributes to the feel of Queen Creek is the farms around our wonderful town. Many large landowners in Queen Creek use their land as farmland for many kinds of things, from cotton to groves of apple trees. The two large-scale farms that are public, Schnepf Farms and the Queen Creek Olive Mill, both produce goods and host events for the residents of Queen Creek. Some unique upcoming events include the Pumpkin and Chili Fest held at Schnepf Farms. These places also offer high school students a place to work, providing an even more small-town feel. I worked at Schnepf Farms. As I begin to talk about high schoolers, it brings to mind another contributing factor to the small-town feel that I believe will not go away.
High schools in Queen Creek all interact with each other, even the charter schools, as they all fit into the same districts for sports. Not a day would go by without me hearing about a game that we either had played against another one of our rivals, like Queen Creek High or our true rivals, American Leadership Academy. Yet in the end, I had friends who went to both schools, and I would find myself working with them, showing that even though we held our differences, we still lived in the same town and would still inevitably run into each other. All of us still had the same idea of traditions, as we would all hang out at bonfires that we held, acting like ranch kids as we jumped over the fire or ate dinner under the star-lit sky. Many other students would likely describe the same type of activity, as well as consistently hanging out at a designated spot such as pizza joints or the Harkins Theatre in the Marketplace.
Finally, the last reason why I believe this town will never lose its small-town feature is its community. It is such a unique community in the fact that most of the residents all seem to have a sense of responsibility for the town, especially when it comes to the town council meetings that attract residents. As someone who works at these meetings, it feels nice to see people bring their concerns for the town as they ask whether a new project disrupts a place like Horseshoe Park, or when the town council recognizes different groups within Queen Creek by giving them their own special recognition within the meeting for that day or month. By allowing this sense of community within the town council, it invites more people to interact and hold an actual forum within the meeting. This allows for more growth within the town while still maintaining the small community feel.
Those factors are what I believe contribute to the small-town feel that Queen Creek still has. Although Queen Creek will continue to grow, I believe that our nice town will always maintain its small-town feel, as long as the residents maintain their traditions.
Franklin Klayko-Gloss is a student at Arizona State University and a resident of Queen Creek.
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