Campana: Historic 1990s efforts by Drinkwater, Goddard

Former Scottsdale Mayor Herb Drinkwater at his desk in 1985. Mr. Drinkwater was mayor from 1980 to 1996. (Photo by Scottsdale Historical Society)

Terry Goddard, former mayor of Phoenix, was part of a compelling series of speakers that shared their personal and professional thoughts this past year as part of CatttleTrack Talks, curated by Janie Ellis, the head of CattleTrack Arts and Preservation Foundation and owner of CattleTrack Arts Compound.

I shared my own thoughts on my mayorship too — but I thought mostly of how important Mayor Goddard and Mayor Drinkwater were at a time when both cities were literally growing (annexing and building) in the ‘90s.

Sam Campana

Woe to the person, I said, who had to follow Herb Drinkwater as mayor. His high ratings were like 94% in his final term of office — and he spent the next four years tracking down and trying to make the final 6% happy! NO kidding!

My recollection to the crowd was Herb changed Scottsdale while epitomizing “The West’s Most Western Town” with three big statements — which he communicated first with the press and then with the community (and sometimes even his fellow councilmembers!).

He declared on the front of the Scottsdale Progress, “No Scottsdale Homes Shall be Taken” and drew the alignment of the Pima Freeway after years of indecision. Indeed, Scottsdale homes, churches, schools, strip malls, neighborhoods were spared condemnation and disruption by his decision.

It took time to be embraced by the Salt River Pima Maricopa Indian Community but they, in retrospect, were also big winners with that declaration.

One only need drive the freeway and look east and west to see the economic boon to their community. Good for them and good for us.

Herb waded into the ongoing, almost weekly zoning wars that were tearing at the city — all the newly annexed land north of Shea that had just one home per acre (or even five acres!) zoning from the county.

He avowed, “all land north of Shea will be zoned one home per acre!” Of course, only rarely did it turn out that way — but in retrospect, thank goodness. It set a bright line to focus the arguments pro and con — and made developers be much more creative, environmentally sensitive, and community minded.

McDowell Mountain Ranch, Windgate, DC Ranch, Scottsdale Mountain, Terravita, among others came as a result of that public policy. Good for neighborhoods and good for us.

About the same time, Mayor Goddard was convening the Phoenix Futures Forum — a roadmap for their city’s future put together by over 10,000 citizens.

Among the recommendations for the next 20 years were a new focus on the arts and entertainment, a better transportation system including transit lines connecting Valley cities, a new emphasis on urban shade, sustainability and education opportunities.

Big vision, crafted during thousands of hours by thousands of interested citizens listening to experts from around the country, customizing those messages to Phoenix and the Valley, and boldly moving forward.

Both Mayor Goddard and Mayor Drinkwater oversaw the passage of big bond issues — Terry led two such efforts, the biggest under his leadership was over a billion dollars!

Terry Goddard. (Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons/Gage Skidmore)

We can see today the infrastructure that the bond approvals put into place to help vitalize and improve Phoenix.

Public art and an expanded art museum, the science museum and the Phoenix History Museum, the revitalized Orpheum Theater, the Burton Barr central library, new police substations, and the first municipal program in Arizona to recycle waste (the famous blue barrels). And Scottsdale passed city and school district bonds to ensure orderly and quality growth.

Mayor Herb’s last big declaration was, “No homes will be built on our McDowell Mountains.” And so, there are not!

But that statement was unwelcome news to the property owners (Kemper Marley, his sons the Corrigans, the Herberger family and others) who had strategically purchased what others would declare not even fit for cattle grazing, and with the addition of water (flowing uphill) was ripe for major development — even at one home per acre!

They sued and won. We appealed and won. They appealed — and finally the case was settled. But in those 10 years of litigation — Scottsdale had grown from all development basically south of Shea — to beautiful developments near those mountains.

Realizing better what was at risk, the community spoke, supporting Herb’s vision, and voted five different times to save the McDowells from commercial or residential development.

Mayor Goddard closed the evening urging community support for the campaign against Dark Money. He gave compelling reasons and a recent example of what can happen when voters don’t know the source of campaign contributions.

I think Herb would have signed that petition, collected signatures in the window of Drinkwater’s Liquor Store and quite probably on his desk at City Hall. For sure he would have said, “Vote for the Scottsdale city bonds in November!”

(Excerpts from CattleTrack Talks on Tuesday, May 14, at CattleTrack Arts Compound. Watch for another series in the Fall of 2019).

Editor’s Note: Sam Campana is a former Scottsdale mayor.

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