Van Parys: Scottsdale ought to seek 21st Century adaptation — not separation

Throughout the Valley of the Sun, you’d be hard pressed to find a city more serene, and with a better central location, than Scottsdale. This is, of course, a biased opinion; I have lived in this city for nearly all of my twenty-three years on this earth.

Tanner Van Parys

Recently, I saw a call for Scottsdale to be divided, cut into two separate municipalities, on the basis of convenience, stubborn will, and a resistance to change. I would assert that course of action as the direct opposite of what should be done. Rather, we should reform our system of governance, not remove.

Improve our civic codes, not shed them in despair. Adapt to changing times, not separate over them.

One of my main complaints of the argument being made for separation, is that the southern part of the city wants to have large expensive developments, that cater to special interests on the council. Nothing, in my opinion, could be further from the truth.

Every single one of the present council members lives north of Shea Boulevard. Therefore, the people who want to “build as big and tall as they want” to quote the article I’m responding to, live in north Scottsdale. The council controls the fate and the development of this very city. How can you defend the residents of the north, when the council is unanimously representing that region, is the one making the very decisions you are against?

You call for your own city, and council for the north, when the seats on that council would likely be occupied by most, if not all, of the present city council members.

Secondly, I’d make the case that Scottsdale needs to change, we are no longer a small western town. We are a tourist hub, a bustling city, a young person’s destination, and our economy is on the up swing. Unfortunately, that growth has also left our working class in the dust.

I understand that when people talk about Scottsdale, they think of Fashion Square, or the glamour of the Scottsdale Quarter; however, there is a fiercely ignored population of young working people, growing families, and working poor; as well as blue collar Baby Boomers that are settling in for their well-earned retirement.

Affordable housing is non-existent for the forgotten working class, and a non-priority for the council. There is no place to retire for the parents that raised their children in “The Most Livable City,” that would cost less than a luxury condominium. Expensive restaurants and shopping centers have replaced small businesses, plots of land are developed for half-a-million-dollar town homes, in neighborhoods where people don’t have enough to eat.

While Mr. Bloch and I may differ on the solutions to common complaints, I do agree with him that the Scottsdale City Council needs to do better for those who are being forgotten. We need community representation, and the ability to cut out special interest sway, council members that will listen to the residents when we beg for a “no” vote on big developments like the DDE/EDGE project, if we are able to be heard form, or receive a vote, at all.

The council is indeed in the pockets of special interests, and they do not represent the interests of their constituents. And, that is why the city of Scottsdale must institute 10 districts, each with a representative, each with a seat on the council, providing a voice both for our neighbors in the north who prefer the quite desert nights, and the working families of the south, who depend on the growth of Old Town and south Scottsdale to build and establish their lives.

Scottsdale has a population of nearly a quarter million people as of the last estimate, six people elected from the same region of the city do not do justice to all of our citizens — not by a long shot. A representative for every 25,000 people would ensure a voice, and the ability to discuss, compromise, and legislate for a better solution for both regions of the city.

Finally, I want to drive home this point: Scottsdale is my home.

My parents took me to the Civic Center Library during the summer, so I could participate in the summer reading programs. My childhood centered within the vibrant theatrical and artistic community that was fostered by the growth and development of Old Town. I attended Scottsdale schools my whole life, and feel a distinct hometown pride when explaining our city’s quirks to friends from out of state; Our free Trolly, Mighty Mud Mania, the festivals of food, art, and music that are abundant on the mall of the Civic Center.

These institutions belong to everyone in our beautiful, southwestern city. It saddens me that our neighbors to the north might rather leave, than work with their neighbors to the south, to fix a clearly broken municipal system. Scottsdale is our home, and we deserve better, local, leaders, who respect their residents, and the things that make Scottsdale, Scottsdale.

Editor’s note: Mr. Van Parys is a resident of Scottsdale

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