Brierley: a different point of view on the Scottsdale Desert EDGE proposal

How sad it makes me to see the conversations being printed over whether to have a “Discovery Center” at the entry to the Sonoran Desert preserve.

It is though some cannot even hear the opposing side. I see very clearly both sides because I know the open land better than most of the folks involved in this conversation.

I am a second generation native of Scottsdale.

My grandmother brought my mother home from the tiny little hospital in Phoenix — think renovated house — to a tent house on the open land that my grandfather purchased in the early 1900s. This land could only be accessed by riding down the canal bank. His land was on the south side of the canal and the north side was open desert.

There was no Camelback Road access east of Scottsdale Road and the pavement ended shortly after you crossed the canal going north. Many a Sunday afternoon was spent by my family taking a picnic out into the open desert, usually having to open a gate or two before we reached a suitable location to spread out our things and enjoy our stay.

I yearn for the wonderful scenery of that time. It does not exist anymore in Scottsdale, except in the Preserve. I am so grateful that past visionaries were strong in their insistence that this area be forever saved for our future generations.

I’m thinking that some have forgotten the very large number of residents and visitors who will never be able to visit the Preserve to see its beauty because they don’t hike. We can go to the trailhead and sit in our cars.  Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have a place to bring the out of town visitors to show them the true beauty of the desert and perhaps give them some history about how this all came to be?

Why does one minimize the other?

I see the center as actually being very important to the future of the Preserve because it gives people a chance to see the amount of time, effort and money that has gone into the preservation of this wonderful space. It gives credit to those people who were farsighted enough to know that preservation of open land would not come easy.

Just look at Camelback and Mummy mountains and see what height restrictions have done to those magnificent areas. Higher and Higher they go and less and less of the open desert mountains are visible. I would ask those of you who are adamant that there can be no building in the Preserve to think for a minute about all of us of a certain age and physical ability who cannot access or enjoy this gift because we can’t hike.

How about those using walkers or wheelchairs? Do we just dismiss them and think well that’s too bad? Or do we find a way to blend all our needs?

Please, please look at this issue from “another point of view.”

Editor’s note: Ms. Brierley is a Scottsdale resident who graduated from Scottsdale High School in 1953

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