McLaren: A response to my Scottsdale Independent commentary

It is clear that I struck a sensitive nerve — I acknowledged that the campaign was very successful — and I did not suggest that anything illegal had transpired.

Alex McLaren

In typical NoDDC fashion anyone who has a different viewpoint is vilified and attacked. In my opinion, the city has more important issues than building a Desert Discovery Center.

The issue of the lack of investment in our basic infrastructure (streets, parks and libraries, public safety, and drainage) is far more important than the proposed DDC.

We have two roads, 68th St and Drinkwater Boulevard that are affected by bridges that are structurally unsound. I have long supported a comprehensive General Obligation Bond program to fund our lack of investment.

Protect our Preserve (POP) is both the name of the PAC, that files reports with the city clerk, and it is also the name of a nonprofit charity that collects funds anonymously from corporations and LLC’s, before bundling for contribution to the PAC.

Call it what you will– but it’s a shell game. I noted that one can see the names of individuals who contributed. Good for them. They believe in the goal and wish to support it.

As I also pointed out, under the Outlaw Dirty Money initiative that hopefully will be on the state wide ballot this November anyone spending more than $2,500 on a candidate or ballot measure will need to disclose that fact. I support that.

The campaign spent about $20,000 on getting signatures. I do not gainsay the enthusiasm of the NoDDC supporters. They collected the bulk of the signatures, but spending a large amount of money on signature collectors does in my mind, raise questions.

With regard to the contract that the city entered into with DDC Scottsdale Inc. (DDCSI). The funds that were used for that contract came from the city’s Transient tax (Bed Tax). The council has the full authority to use these funds for that purpose.

The purpose of the study was to develop conceptual plans for a proposed Center at the Gateway in the Preserve. The NoDDC folks were (are) bitterly opposed and mounted their campaign against the project.

There are, however, supporters of the DDC and they have a right to campaign for the Center. Just as the NoDDC folks have a right to campaign against it. One of the problems is that the NoDDC folks have conflated their opposition to so many other facets of City government.

They claim that the council is non-responsive and out of touch, only because not all the council supports their position. This is nonsense. It is possible for people to focus on different issues concurrently.

The concepts that were produced by DDCSI are appealing but there are  legitimate questions. The first is the initial capital cost and then the operation of the center. The council were asking these questions and in my view were nowhere near to approving the project. A lot of additional analysis is needed if the project moves forward.

I would expect that DDCSI would and should release the names of those who have financially supported the project. Again, if you support a position why not disclose. Of course one major concern could be the howls of disapproval that will come from the NoDDC groups.

We still live in the same neighborhood that we have lived in for over 30 years. We did sell our house and moved about six houses on our same street. In fact, we are a lot closer to the project on the corner of Miller and Osborn that my wife supported at a Development Review Board (DRB) hearing.

That project, three stories, is now under construction and will be a great addition to the area. I, and other neighbors, also spoke at the DRB against the initial proposed development just north of Osborn on Miller.

The initial proposal was for a nine-story complex which we argued was too massive. The Treo project that was developed on the site is three stories and is also a great addition to our area. I don’t recall John Washington being at the meeting.

I was not paid to write the opinion piece. I have a right to an opinion just as anyone else does. I worked for the city for 21 years from 1985 to 2007. I certainly do not appear every time a development proposal shows up.

I did speak at the June 12 council meeting to support the Crossroads East rezoning. As I stated at the meeting, I am very familiar with the area and was involved for years in attempting to resolve the drainage and transportation issues in the area.

The area adjacent to the freeway was always envisioned to have greater density. The successful rezoning sets the stage for development in the area. As was pointed out at the meeting, the Grayhawk residents who were opposed reminded one of the legions of folks who turned up years ago to protest the development of Grayhawk.

I also support the recent update to the Downtown Plan. This update and the Crossroads East rezoning will be economic drivers for continued high quality development in the City.

I did work for HDR Engineering from 2007 until I retired about five years ago. HDR has done quality projects all over the country. I would also expect that they would disclose any contributions they make to candidates or campaigns.

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