Jim Lane: Put the Scottsdale Desert Discovery Center in the hands of the public

The only way to guarantee a public vote on the Desert Discovery Center at the McDowell Sonoran Preserve, or elsewhere, is to amend the Scottsdale City Charter. And, that’s exactly what I am proposing.

Jim Lane

Jim Lane

I am calling for an amendment to the Scottsdale City Charter which would require a public vote on any project at the McDowell Sonoran Preserve costing more than $5 million or $1 more than the most expensive trailhead. Others may have suggestions to improve this language but my goal is clear; any major changes or projects impacting the Preserve must go to the voters.

No loopholes.

Over the years, plans for the DDC have gotten more exotic. One proposal calls for a facility of more than 70,000 square feet. I don’t support that, and I believe if it went to a vote of the public this proposal would be rejected.

But there is no way to guarantee a public vote on this issue now or in the future unless the Scottsdale City Charter is amended.

My opponent, Bob Littlefield, opposes this idea even though he now claims to be against the DDC. Bob would rather use the issue to score political points than to let the public decide.

That’s the problem.

Right now there can’t be a vote on the DDC because nothing has been proposed. But when the issue comes before the council in the future, the public would get its say if the Scottsdale City Charter is amended.

The charter amendment has an added benefit because it protects the Preserve now and in the future. It’s a safe bet that another Bob Littlefield will come along and try to turn the McDowell Sonoran Preserve into a political football.

The McDowell Sonoran Preserve is Scottsdale’s Grand Canyon. I made it my mission to get our Preserve lands purchased and to increase our purchasing power by using more than $86 million of available state funds in the process.

The only threat to the Preserve, greater than an outsized DDC, are outsized political egos who would rather exploit the Preserve for political gain than truly work to protect it. This issue has now moved beyond the DDC and should encompass any major changes now and in the future.

With an amendment to the Scottsdale City Charter, we can intercept the politics and guarantee the public’s final say now and forever.

Editor’s note: Mr. Lane is the mayor of Scottsdale and seeking re-election

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