Littlefield: poll shows strong opposition to Scottsdale Desert EDGE proposal

Since the beginning of the $1.7-million-dollar study — which my Council colleagues approved over my objections — on the development of the newest version of the Desert Discovery Center/Desert EDGE, I have been overwhelmed by citizen input proclaiming they do not support this project.

Kathy Littlefield

They do not want to pay the $62 million-plus dollars to build it. Nor do they want to pay the annual deficit required to support it. Most important of all, they do not want a commercial enterprise built inside the Preserve.

At all the public meetings I attended, the opposition was tremendous. On the other hand, the proponents of the Desert Discovery Center proclaimed the new project would be a wonderful addition to Scottsdale and had to be built inside the Preserve to be effective.

Emotions still are running high on this issue, sometimes with people being threatened with arrest and even ejection from meetings for asking questions or speaking out! Name calling, threats of lawsuits, lies, and hatred on both sides are growing. This is not the Scottsdale we are used to seeing; nor do I believe it is how anyone wants Scottsdale to be now or in the future.

We are being torn apart from the inside out, and it is getting worse each day, not better.

But, all this rhetoric is anecdotal — I wanted to know for sure where Scottsdale citizens stand on this very controversial project. So, Bob and I spent our own personal money to commission an experienced, reputable, out-of-state — to avoid bias — polling and research agency to conduct a scientifically valid survey of active Scottsdale voters on this issue. To get to the truth, we set these parameters:

  • The poll would encompass all of Scottsdale, north, central and south.
  • The poll would only contain Scottsdale residents who voted in the last election.

The number that amazed me was the “Not Sure or Don’t Know” percentage. The 6.3 percent number is an unusually low number for an issue question.

Bottom Line: the clear majority of Scottsdale voters are informed about the Desert Discovery Center/Desert EDGE proposal and they oppose it by almost a 2-1 margin! See for yourself:

 

 

There were already plenty of reasons to pull the plug on the Desert Discovery Center/Desert EDGE proposal, especially without a vote of the people who will foot the bill. For one thing, it is a commercial enterprise that breaks the promises made when voters were asked to tax themselves almost a billion dollars to purchase the land for the Preserve. It is also a financial disaster — building it would drain a whopping $62 million taxpayer dollars from our Preserve and bed tax funds, diverting those dollars from more worthy projects or from being returned to citizens in the form of a reduced sales tax.

Also, the annual operating deficit will have to be covered from the city’s General Fund, which means either a tax increase to cover it, or less money for public safety, streets, parks and other important municipal needs. Knowing the citizens of Scottsdale oppose it by a 2-1 margin should make this an easy decision for a city council sworn to represent those very same people!

Council should firmly and permanently vote down the current Desert Discovery Center/Desert EDGE proposal.

Next, we should put on the earliest possible ballot a clear, unambiguous Charter Amendment prohibiting any commercial or municipal development in the Preserve, now or in the future — the only exception being the last remaining planned and approved trailhead and trail not yet built. The question must be for a Charter Amendment because an ordinance or a General Plan amendment can be overturned by a future city council without consulting the voters.

Such a Charter Amendment would give the Scottsdale citizens what they were always promised: a true Preserve, free from commercial development, now and into the future.

Editor’s note: Mrs. Littlefield is a member of Scottsdale City Council

 

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