Dear DDC Supporter,
As you are a supporter of the Desert Discovery Center (DDC), we are personally writing you to present important concerns about its proposed location inside the City’s Preserve. We are not against the DDC concept per se, but we have many reservations about locating the DDC in the Preserve.
The current location presents numerous barriers to the success of the DDC and goes against the intent of the Preserve. A failed DDC will not only waste tax payers’ funds, but an insolvent DDC will create ongoing losses in the millions that Scottsdale residents will need to cover for many years to come.
Barriers to a successful DDC if built in the Preserve:
- Scottsdale residents must pay for and own the DDC
The Preserve Charter requires that the City has to own and run any enterprise in the Preserve; therefore, Scottsdale residents will also be responsible to pay for all costs to build the DDC and will absorb any yearly losses incurred by the DDC.
- Use of Preserve Land Funds to pay for the DDC
The city does not have the money to build the DDC unless they use Preserve funds intended for land acquisition, additional trails and trail heads to increase public access. Furthermore, Preserve funds cannot legally be used to cover planned DDC operational costs or losses. These will flow directly to Scottsdale residents.
- Preserve Ordinance restricts DDC success
If located in the Preserve, the DDC will have to conform to the Preserve Ordinance #3321 designed to prevent it from being transformed into a park. Prohibited actions include the following, all of which are planned for the DDC:
- night time operations,
- noise amplification
- consumption of liquor
These protective regulations will limit potential revenue sources necessary to keep it from incurring annual losses.
- Degradation of current trailhead experience
The proposed DDC location is the busiest trailhead, the Gateway Trailhead. The proposed DDC complex will significantly degrade the current Preserve experience with unnecessary buildings, barriers/fencing, traffic, lights, and sound.
- Competition with existing educational programs
The City’s Preserve partner, the McDowell Sonoran Conservancy (MSC), is already conducting education hikes and lectures in the Preserve in full compliance with the Preserve Ordinance. MSC also provides onsite stewards at each trailhead to help inform and educate users. The Preserve also has 4 interpretative trails (each at different trail heads), three of them are ADA compatible, accessible to anyone.
The MSC has a separate funded research branch that is doing research on plants and animals in the Preserve, in conjunction with other outside research organizations, including ASU.
- Majority of public opposes location
There is significant and growing public opposition to the DDC. The Preserve location, potential misuse of Preserve funds, and denial by City Council of a public vote have angered residents. Surveys by the City show over 80% of the respondents are opposed to the DDC in the Preserve.
Benefits of locating the DDC outside the Preserve:
- It can be owned, managed and operated by anyone, thus relieving the City and its taxpayers of the financial burden to both build and operate it.
- Without the Preserve restrictions, the following would be viable options for the DDC: Nighttime events, any type and number of concessions, meeting rooms, office space, sound amplification (amphitheater), and other such operations that are currently prohibited in the Preserve.
- Constraints on size and/or design imposed to try to make it conform to the Preserve would be eliminated.
- It would NOT conflict or compete with the educational activities already conducted in the Preserve by the MSC, but rather compliment them.
Proposed alternative location for DDC success:
An alternate site for the DDC is the City-owned land at 94th street and Bell Road. This 80 acre site has excellent unobstructed views of the Preserve, plenty of space, and is in a more central location. It is within walking distance of both the Preserve and West World. It would have greater exposure to tourists, is closer to the 101 Freeway, and is adjacent to a commercial area, all of which would make the concessions in the DDC more viable.
West World events bring over 1 million visitors to this specific area, which would increase attendance at the DDC. At this site, the DDC could have any activities that may be necessary but are currently banned in Preserve, including nighttime activities, a full scale restaurant, parties, special events, and expansion as may be necessary for success. In the Preserve, none of this is possible, and public resistance will hamper both initial construction and possible expansion.
We hope you agree that for the DDC to be successful, it should be moved outside the Preserve. The integrity of the Preserve will be maintained for the enjoyment of Preserve users (both residents and tourists) and the public who bought the Preserve. It would also improve the probability of a successful DDC.
If you still believe the DDC should be in the Preserve, then the public has the right to vote on this issue, including the misappropriation of Preserve funds.
If you would like to learn more, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you for your time,
Howard Myers, Betty Janik and Kate Conway, Protect Our Preserve Board Members
Sue and David Adatto
Courtney Conway, Scottsdale
Lisa and Ryan Cornell
26804 N. 79 St. Scottsdale 85266
7638 E. Whisper Rock Trail Scottsdale 85266
Gordon Klomps, Spring Valley, MN
Mary Klomps, Rochester, MN
Susan Leeper, Scottsdale, AZ
Megan and Caleb McClung, Onalaska, WI
Guy Phillips, Scottsdale City Council
7131 E. Cholla St. Scottsdale 85254
Joanne “Copper” Phillips and Herman D. Phillips, Scottsdale 85266
Tom and Barbara Pringle, Scottsdale
Joseph P Reilly, Scottsdale, AZ
Linda E. Rizzo, Scottsdale
Lynda Clark Tilden
Kathy Killebrew Umfrid
Kathy Ann Walsh
10302 E. Le Marche Dr. Scottsdale 85255
20-year Resident of Scottsdale
Volunteer in the Preserve