October 19th 2017 | City Council DDC/Desert Edge Update

The DDC now has a new name: Desert Edge. The design is done and presented to the Council. The broad parameters are a $62 mil facility to be built on 5 acres and located at the Gateway entrance to the Preserve on Preserve land. Also included is an offsite parking area for 250 cars. Using the 80 acre site owned by the City near the Gateway for the parking area is being considered. This is the 80 acre parcel on which the City pays $3 mil per year in debt service. Desert Edge is controversial. Proponents argue that it will be a tourist draw and will enhance the Scottsdale experience, and that voters authorized it when we voted for the Preserve taxes. Opponents say voters only authorized land purchases, trails, and minor trailhead facilities. Putting aside the actual issues, the current hot button for the Council is whether or not we citizens should have an opportunity to vote on whether or not to build the center. We heard Linda Milhaven, at last month’s meeting, say that, in her opinion, we already voted in favor of the project twice when we approved the sales tax initiatives to fund the Preserve land purchases. Linda, Suzanne Klapp and Virginia Korte have said that they do not want us to vote. Councilmembers Littlefield and Phillips, along with Mayor Lane have said they are in favor of putting the issue on the ballot. Councilman Dave Smith has not stated his preference. In addition, a lawsuit initiated in part by Tea Party member Pat Shaler, has been filed. The suit alleges that City Council has misappropriated $1.76 mil for the design of a facility that cannot be constructed without the consent of 2/3 of the Council and also a majority of the voters. They point to Article 8, Section 11 of the City Charter which states that the Council has the authority to remove from preserve designation only parcels less than 1 acre and only with a 2/3 vote (5 of 7) of all members. The Desert Edge is 5 acres. The Charter goes on to say, and this is the key point, that “removal of the parcel designation from any other parcel of land shall require approval by an affirmative vote of 2/3 of all members of the council, but shall not become effective unless submitted by the council to the electors and approved by vote of the majority of votes cast at the election.” In short, building on more than one acre in the Preserve requires 5 Council votes and an election.