Cantor: how is it now OK to use tax dollars to destroy a chunk of that preserved land?

I am always surprised to see the names of attorneys and corporate board members on letters like that concerning the Desert Discovery Center.

What they are asking us to do, is to sit down and go be quiet, and let them make all the decisions about how future tax dollars are spent.

“You know you can trust them.”

Oh, and don’t cloud the issue with questions of responsibility, accountability and ethics. Over the years we have been repeatedly asked to approve the use of our tax dollars to acquire land to preserve the Sonoran Desert in Scottsdale.

As a southern Scottsdale resident for 57 years and having seriously served on boards and commissions connected to neighborhood vitality and safety, housing, quality of life for aging Scottsdale residents, particularly of middle and lower incomes, community policing, K-12 education and lifelong learning and, yes, the current General Plan update for 8.5 years, well, you get the idea.

Along the way I was asked to encourage my neighbors — southern Scottsdale friends and business members — to tax themselves to acquire open land, pristine Sonoran Desert lands, to preserve it for future generations.

After learning what was wanted, and finding out what it meant to ask fellow citizens to tax themselves and for how much and for how long that taxation period would be, the next step was talking and emailing with fellow citizens. And I did. And, would do so to acquire those lands, again.

Now, our community is presented with a plan that a small group of residents got together to create for what reason I do not understand, using tax dollars for developing land we thought we were preserving as pristine and we all should just sit back — it is OK — they know what “we” are doing. I do understand that tourism is a economic driver for Scottsdale, but it requires planning and we as a city are very lazy when it comes to planning and following those plans.

Well, you told us to trust you before and now, here we are.

I am conflicted because I cannot explain how it is that now it is OK to use tax dollars to destroy a chunk of that preserved land, and not ask the citizens for approval? Not wanted; no thank you.

Recently, the question came up, “don’t you feel like you were lying to the people, you asked to vote to tax themselves?” Yep, I do and I do not appreciate the liberties being taken by a select group of residents and special interest groups.

What is worse, is the fact that this same group of people was seeking out support of candidates in the 2014 city council for their support and approval of “a plan” that was markedly smaller and less cluttered with event spaces. Refreshment area, places to sit and areas for discussion of the Sonoran Desert. Nothing as pretentious as what is proposed.

Carla, who was a real driving force to preserve the Sonoran environment, long ago, had met and worked with teachers in SUSD to create a curriculum, with workbooks and employing speakers and trips to the Preserve to promote the appreciation of and respect for our environment. I know because she asked for help in copying and collating sample workbooks, for different grade levels and bilingual.

For reference, this is not in my back yard. Withhold NIMBY remarks.

Fact is that most south Scottsdale residents do not have easy access to the Preserve, due to the lack of public transportation — if you take a close look at the proposed logo for the Preserve you will find a ligthtrail car. Whatever could that mean?

Our country is screaming for good governance. Scottsdale residents, north, south, throughout the city, have been asking for good governance. Please don’t look here.

While working with my 11- and 12-year-old grandsons on maps a few minutes ago, I was staring off at the map with the McDowell Sonoran Desert on it and mumbling about the DDC, saying, “why do they want to do this?” Got my answer from the 11-year-old, “because they can and you don’t have the big bucks to stop them, Gram’.”

Editor’s note: Ms. Cantor is a resident of Scottsdale and longtime community advocate

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