The Parks and Recreation survey is one of the key pieces of the overall picture of the community that helps ensure the decisions I make as a councilmember reflect our residents’ priorities and preferences. This further helps us, as a council, understand how our residents desire to develop the park land.
This survey is a great example of a democracy in action. I feel like I have a good pulse on the community; however, it is important to have an unbiased approach to our residents' recreational expectations. I'm grateful for the 555 participants who have helped shape the community in which we live.
Over the years, our town councils have done a tremendous job at investing in critical infrastructure with a fiscally conservative approach for our growing community. Our priorities have been focused on public safety, roads and sustainable water. In a few short years, we will be near buildout in most of those critical areas, and it is important that we focus on areas of our community that deliver recreational opportunities to further the quality of life our residents would enjoy.
I was surprised to see how many town residents' frequent parks outside of Queen Creek to recreate. As a council member, my desire is for our residents not to have to leave Queen Creek to find recreational amenities.
Our park fields are booked every night of the week. Sunday is set aside for the fields to recover to stay healthy for the residents. This demand for leagues is dramatically escalating. I constantly hear from rec leagues and teams that there are not enough fields to rent. Leagues are having to put athletes on waiting lists and leagues that would like to be in Queen Creek are practicing outside of the town.
Due to current field inventory, the town is limited to one partner organization per sport and there are many requests for other leagues that would like to partner with the town to provide additional leagues to our residents. The town is also unable to accommodate tournaments due to lack of available fields and size. Queen Creek splash pads and playgrounds see several years' worth of use in just a year due to the usage. We constantly hear from residents wanting a wider variety of additional amenities including pickleball, tennis, aquatics and more.
As a mother of four children, quality parks allow my family the ability to stay active and healthy. It also connects us with other families in the community. It is hard to quantify the benefit, but after the isolation we all felt over this last year, the connection we all feel on the field with other families is undeniable.
Julia Wheatley is a Queen Creek town council member.