Schenkat: Scottsdale downtown opinions should be read with your ‘eyes wide open’

The Independent has published opinions recently written by Councilman David Smith and ex-Councilman Wayne Ecton.

They seem to express opposing opinions, but you have to read between the lines to catch the real meaning. Mr. Ecton implied that Scottsdale’s downtown is an economic engine, but the details of the Hogan study do not prove that.

Sandy Schenkat

The direct economic impact from those who work in the call centers, bars, and restaurants seems to be skewed. Most of these workers live in other parts of the Valley.

They cause our traffic problems and parking issues in downtown. They work for low wages and then travel to their homes outside of Scottsdale, where they spend their money. Therefore, I would question the conclusions expressed in the ASU Hogan study.

The direct tax benefit related to bed tax is not just achieved from downtown.

The reported $19.2 million figure in the study is generated from the entire city — not just the 1.2 square miles referred to in the Dec. 20 opinion article. Mr. Smith recently detailed the cost of public safety in the downtown.

It is apparent that the taxpayers subsidize the public safety in the entertainment district. There appears to be a movement by a few business owners and developers in the downtown referred to as Downtown Economic Vitality Coalition.

This group had not contributed to the current Downtown 2.0 Study, which is underway, until the city asked them to meet with CSL consultants due to recent publications in the Scottsdale Independent.

The city of Scottsdale has paid $200,000 to CSL to help develop a plan to improve the downtown. Hopefully, with the hundreds of interviews and city meetings, CSL will come up with some concrete suggestions. CSL seems to appreciate the input from the Old Town merchants and gallery owners.

They are looking at facts and city history to help improve our downtown. The city has expended more than a $100,000 to get advice from Holly Street related to the connectivity in downtown through the “Emerald Necklace” concept.

We need to trust that our city officials have hired the right consultants to guide us into the future. The future depends on Scottsdale retaining its position as a city of sophistication with arts and culture.

The residents of Scottsdale pay a premium to live here. We do not want our city to attract more lower wage employees who can not support our economy. We need to keep the bar set high to attract viable businesses who share the philosophy that Scottsdale is a prestigious city.

The second-rate, mini-Vegas reputation we have acquired in recent years needs to be toned down and we need to keep our citizens and visitors safe. Let us not be hoodwinked by those who want to further promote proliferation of the bad elements that have infiltrated our downtown.

If we lose our cache as Councilman David Smith says, we will be just like “Anytown USA.” We will not be able to draw tourists and residents who want to experience all that this great city has to offer.

Read these opinions with your eyes wide open and pay attention to city government or soon we will all just be living in a town that is not so special or the best city in the U.S. as our Mayor claims.

Editor’s note: Ms. Schenkat is a resident of Scottsdale

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