GILBERT, AZ - Between new housing developments and an ever-growing entertainment district, the city of Gilbert is quickly becoming the suburb of the future and now the city is ready to move forward with a massive project to draw in even more people.
The city has finalized plans for a massive park spanning 272 acres along the southwest corner of Higley and Queen Creek roads in partnership with the Maricopa County Irrigation District.
Plans for the park include the city's largest playground, splash pads, eight pickleball courts, six volleyball and tennis courts, a lake, a ropes course and a zipline -- and that's just phase one, which will take a year to construct starting this fall.
Phase two could happen concurrently and will bring to life mountain bike and skate parks, a disc golf course and running trails.
Phase three is a few years out with construction beginning in 2022 at the earliest. Phase three includes an amphitheater, a great lawn, sports fields, and even an aquatic center.
"Taking it from a couple hour experience to an all-day experience, adding value not just to the city but the entire region," said Gilbert Parks and Recreation Director Rod Buchanan.
The ambitious project comes with a hefty price tag near $100 million over the course of five to ten years.
Buchanan says the first phase will be paid for through capital improvement funds, park development fees and land sales already approved by voters. You could also see an bond measure in 2020.
The city is also counting on generating money through sports court rentals for tournaments, concerts in the amphitheater and a wedding space near the lake. The city is also working on private partnerships for the aquatic center and ropes course, while also including space for food truck parking.
"Everything has been strategically placed to be able to make money." said Buchanan, "Being able to hold two special events at the same time in one place will draw people to the area."