Bell: please build the Desert EDGE for the sake of all Scottsdale residents

Twice I have testified at City Hall on the need for a nature education center in the McDowell Sonoran Preserve.

Vickie Bell

Accompanying me were my husband and our son, Tyler. You would know Tyler with his beloved Diamondbacks baseball cap on. You’d remember him because although confined to a wheelchair and developmentally disabled, he exudes an enthusiasm for life and all its possibilities.

We have taken Tyler — and his sister before she left to work in library science at Bates College in Lewiston, Maine — to many national parks, our wonderful state parks and those near my home in south Scottsdale, where we’ve lived for 58 years.

The parks and nature areas we’ve been able to take our son to include: Yellowstone, Grand Canyon, Yosemite, Redwoods, Crater Lake, Mt. St. Helen’s, Mt. Rainier, Joshua Tree, Zion, and Bryce Canyon. In addition, we’ve travelled with our young family using our motorhome which supported his ventilator and oxygen needs.

I’m disappointed by the angry tone I heard from the people who are opposed to this interpretive center that has planned for decades in what is now their neighborhood — probably before they lived there. No one was against the architecture — it’s perfect the way they moved it away from the neighborhoods with much less impact.

The experiences developed by the planners are sensitive and specific to our precious Sonoran Desert. Research with the ASU/SCC collaboration will make a difference around the globe. Although it was voted on by the citizens and there is an already approved plan — now they live there and don’t want it.

I truly believe they would support this project if it wasn’t literally in their back yard.

In my youth I would go with my mother and grandfather to that area of the desert before it was sanctioned as a Preserve. We would go shooting, hiking, picnicking and nature walking. In the 1960s and 1970s that was a common outing for local families.

I understand the need to preserve the entire area that is now designated as such. What I don’t understand is how a small neighborhood can demand that the rest of the citizens not be allowed to receive the gift of an education center within a small area of this Preserve. As a citizen of Scottsdale my entire life — I’ve paid my taxes for this center and have supported the council in decisions they make on my behalf.

 

Happily, there are three wonderful handicapped-accessible trails for me to take Tyler — two of them paid for by the volunteer chair of the Desert Discovery Center Scottsdale. Although the trails are wheelchair accessible this isn’t enough for me to be able to take my son there throughout the entire year. This not-for-profit board has many of the leaders of the Preserve movement from decades ago!

They want to be certain all Scottsdale citizens — students, toddlers, our senior citizens, national and international visitors, plus others like my son — can have a morning at the Preserve, air conditioned and out of the hot sun, learning and enjoying the lessons we all can get from being immersed in nature.

That is good public policy, like the Indian Bend Wash near my neighborhood. I lived in the east Scottsdale neighborhood before the Indian Bend Wash was developed. As children we would have to hurry home anytime it rained or we would be cut off from our own homes.

At the time there were those who opposed the wash and wanted it to stay in its natural state. I’m sure nobody would have anything negative to say about this project now. I think the same would be said about the Education Center at the Preserve.

Please – build the education center for the entire city. Don’t delay this any longer because of an angry neighborhood who is looking out for their own selfish needs and not the needs of the greater community.

Vote “no” on Proposition 420 … For Tyler and all of Scottsdale citizens.

Editor’s note: Ms. Bell is a Scottsdale resident

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