I attended the Nov. 30 Desert Discovery Center Public Workshop with an open mind and cautious optimism only to be discouraged and thoroughly insulted by the city of Scottsdale’s thinly disguised demonstration of desiring public input into this project. It was nothing more than a poorly staged PR stunt by the DDC Scottsdale and the Scottsdale City Council.
The workshop introduction immediately told the participants that the location of the DDC (at the Gateway Trailhead) had been determined and would not be open for discussion.
The two subsequent “discussion” periods consisted of the designer and architect presenting pro-DDC hyperbole for 25 minutes while (unbelievably) claiming to have not even the slightest hint or conceptual idea of the final design.
The remaining 5 minutes of each “discussion” session were left for questions, of which few were asked and fewer were answered because they “ran out of time.”
The last session, for public comments, never happened as nobody from the city of Scottsdale or DDC organization even bothered to show up. The audience members were left to politely voice their disgust among themselves and slowly drift out of the workshop.
The final insult to this travesty were the inane comment cards handed out to the participants, which did not ask for, nor leave room for, constructive comments about the DDC or the workshop. Instead, the comment cards asked the participants: “Choose an adjective to describe the Sonoran Desert” and “What have you always wondered about the Sonoran Desert?”
I previously questioned why the Scottsdale City Council had chosen to ignore the will of its residents and not allow a public vote on the DDC.The DDC is not a need for the city of Scottsdale. It is a want by the Scottsdale City Council.The DDC project is not a aesthetic municipal project, like the Museum of the West, which had no environmental impact on the Sonoran Preserve.
The DDC Project involves the construction of buildings on pristine desert land that could easily achieve the same educational/tourist objectives in a different, less intrusive location.
Furthermore, it sets a precedent and opens the door for future commercialization of this pristine land.
So, if the city of Scottsdale doesn’t need the DDC and a very vocal opposition doesn’t want it, the question to be asked now is, “Why does the Scottsdale City Council want it so bad that they are determined to shove it down the throats of its residents?” Or, “Are there possibly other parties that might benefit from construction of the DDC (short-term or long-term)?”
As history has shown, time and time again, if you want to see who benefits from a questionable government project, just follow the money trail. Ironically, as one person opposed to infringing on the preserve, I suggest that it is time to start turning over a few rocks on the money trail of the DDC Project and see what comes slithering out.
David Fitzgerald, North Scottsdale resident.