One of the great things about the East Valley is its newness.
True, our roots go way back to the mid- and late 19th century, way back to when the people who came here were pioneers in the truest sense of the word. And most of our cities have neighborhoods that, while hardly ancient, can legitimately be called historic.
But like a monsoon sky constantly bubbling with new clouds, the East Valley is aboil with growth, to the extent that entire cities are in the process of being born. And one of the area’s adolescents, Queen Creek, is so fresh that it’s still in the process of inventing itself.
Queen Creek turns 15 this week. In the grand sweep of time, that’s not much. But what a 15 years it’s been.
From the outset, Queen Creek determined it would not let itself become one of those stucco-and-red-tile jungles where neighbors can lean out their respective windows and shake hands, where the streets all have hokey Spanish-sounding names and where you can’t distinguish one neighborhood, or one town, from another.
Queen Creek’s founders wanted to make sure their baby would always have its own feel. They wanted to preserve its rural ambiance. They even took the unusual step of prohibiting block walls in new developments.
One side effect of the town’s standards is that growth has exploded in less-finicky areas southeast of Queen Creek. But that’s not to say Queen Creek has been left behind; already, its population is estimated at triple the 5,000 people who lived there when the 2000 census was taken.
All those people need places to work and shop, and municipal planners are processing 1.5 million square feet of commercial space expected to become reality in short order. That’s going to help the tax base, and it will help offset the debt incurred as the city adds services and infrastructure.
No city hall is without critics, of course, and Queen Creek has come under fire for a perceived inflexibility that some residents believe undermines their quality of life. The town will need to be careful about that, making sure rigid adherence to guidelines that seemed terrific 15 years ago doesn’t thwart common-sense solutions to unforeseen problems.
But in general, we hope the town sticks to its guns, managing growth according to standards that ensure the uniqueness and livability that drew the original settlers to begin with.
Fifteen years isn’t a long time. But it’s time enough to get off to a good start. Queen Creek has done that, and seems well poised for the challenges ahead.