Think Again: A Letter to Supporters of the DDC

By January 1, 2017Uncategorized


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:

  • concessions,
  • 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.

In Summary:

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.

Alternative Locations for the DDC

If you would like to learn more, please contact us at

Thank you for your time,

Howard Myers, Betty Janik and Kate Conway, Protect Our Preserve Board Members

Sue and David Adatto

Cathy Ainsworth

Courtney Conway, Scottsdale

Lisa and Ryan Cornell

Carrie Dahl

Alice Demetra
7400 Gainey Club Drive #135 Scottsdale 85258
Anne Driscoll
Heath Ellison
John and Juanita Enkoji
26804 N. 79 St. Scottsdale 85266
Kate Gnerer
Suzanne Heidbreder, Scottsdale
Tom Hogarty
10326 E. Tierra Buena Lane Scottsdale 85255
Paul Haizlip and Ellen Knudsen, Scottsdale
Cara House
Jay and Dale Kaplan
7638 E. Whisper Rock Trail Scottsdale 85266
Donna Neuhauser
10326 E. Tierra Buena Lane Scottsdale 85255
Barbara Kaplan Powell
Susan Kauffman and Charles Blackmon
10639 E Mark Lane
Scottsdale, AZ 85262
Andrea Keck

Gordon Klomps, Spring Valley, MN

Mary Klomps, Rochester, MN

Bradford Kunde

Susan Leeper, Scottsdale, AZ

Megan and Caleb McClung, Onalaska, WI

Joni Millavec

Shamira Morgan

Dani Noyse

James Peck

Charles Peters

Jeanne Peters

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

Denise Ransome

Michael Ransome

Joseph P Reilly, Scottsdale, AZ

Linda E. Rizzo, Scottsdale

Neil Sareen

Lynda Clark Tilden

Kathy Killebrew Umfrid

Nancy Voorhees

Kathy Ann Walsh

10302 E. Le Marche Dr. Scottsdale 85255

20-year Resident of Scottsdale

Volunteer in the Preserve



Join the discussion 10 Comments

  • steve houlihan says:

    As a Scottsdale resident and tax-payer, I do not support the DDC. I am confident another location can be found that would be better suited without destroying the serenity of the Gateway complex.

  • “We are not against the DDC concept per se”

    Howard, Kate, Betty, I think you know how I feel about this, but it bears repeating that (IMHO) your biggest mistake is buying into the notion that there’s some kind of unmet dire need to serve taxpayers who’ve somehow been otherwise denied the opportunity to discover the desert.

    If the City is involved in ANY way, the DDC is going to wind up costing the taxpayers a LOT of money, both up-front and every year in the form of cash subsidies, just like the Museum of the West, the Cultural Council, and so many other “public-private partnerships” from which the “private” interests profit, and the public winds up footing the bill.

    If the DDC was a good idea, private businesses would do it on their own.

  • Doug Miner says:

    While I support the DDC, I DO NOT support putting it on Preserve land. The letter prepared by ‘Protect our Preserve’ explains the reasons well!!

  • John Vandel says:

    I do not support the DDC being built in the preserve.

  • Norman Lynn says:

    We fully endorse the position per this correspondence from the No DDC committee. It would be a travesty to build anything on that magnificent site let alone what has been proposed. Norman and Ila Lynn

  • John and Juanita Enkoji says:

    Please add our names as supporters of this letter. We must not allow the DDC to be built in side the Preserve. It would be a travesty.

    John and Juanita Enkoji
    26804 N. 79 St.
    Scottsdale, AZ 85266

  • Wo says:

    The DDC is a complete waste of money and as proposed would be a blight upon the Preserve.

    I am appalled at members of the DDCSI who enrich themselves on tax payer $$ advocating/lobbying for this self serving pork barrel project.

    Go to NODDC on Facebook and see how see how DDCSI lobbyists, political insiders and Preserve Pimps grossly spend taxpayer $$ on lunches, mileage and entertainment in support of the DDC.

    Question your city council person and ask them to stop this abomination immediately!

  • James H Davis & Francine M Hitchcock says:

    Keep the DDC out of the Preserve

  • Kathleen merritt says:

    Preserve means to Preserve period! There are plenty of empty spaces to put the educational building. All this is about is Big money for certain people. And it’s being shoved down our throats with out our vote. We all need to have a big protest in front of city hall .

  • Doug Miller says:

    No DDC. COS has already torn up too much desert. The Preserve is great as is and we don’t need 300, 000 visitors every year. I have even gotten comments from out of state visitors lamenting at how Scottsdale is becoming nothing but condos and malls.

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