Milhaven: the Desert Discovery Center remains a work in progress

The Desert Discovery Center has garnered a great deal of interest in recent weeks. There is clearly a great deal of emotion with many people both for and against this project.

Linda Milhaven

Linda Milhaven

Both sides should know that the center is a work in process. The final recommendation is due out next summer, 2017. Let’s wait until we have a final recommendation and then we can decide if we want to move forward — or not.

Despite the fact that the DDC is a work in process, detractors pull out details from prior studies and present them as fait accompli. We have been considering a Desert Discovery Center for many years and it has gone through many iterations in that time. The DDC is a work in process.

Monday night, the city council will be considering a citizen petition about the Preserve. Many have tried to make this about the Desert Discovery Center. Open meeting laws are very clear that we must post our agendas for the public and we may only discuss items that are on our agenda.

The agenda calls for a discussion of the citizen petition received last May. The petition asks the “City Council to pass a resolution, or to submit to voters a change to the Charter, that would … require (a) public vote” for any construction and use of Preserve tax funds for anything other than “land acquisition … trails, minimal facilities required for trail heads and the land bridge over Dynamite Blvd.”

Citizens have already voted on the use of Preserve sales tax funds and limited their use to land acquisition and Preserve improvements, things like the trails, parking lots and buildings.

Some folks seem to want additional clarification, but I think the suggested language is vague and open to broad interpretation. How big or small is minimal? How do we define a trailhead? Today, trailheads have meeting rooms/classrooms/offices, storage, public restrooms, exhibition space and amphitheaters.

Is this agreeable moving forward?  What is the land bridge over Dynamite?
The Charter is the “constitution” for the city. We should be thoughtful and cautious about recommending changes.

If in fact, this is really about the DDC then let’s talk about the DDC. It will be best to do that after the final proposal is completed in the summer of 2017. Let’s talk about it then.

Editor’s note: Ms. Milhaven is a member of Scottsdale City Council

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