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HOT ISSUE # 1:  Windgate Ranch Neighborhood Meeting was held this evening to share facts about the proposed Desert Discovery Center.

More than 200 residents in the Windgate subdivision and other HOAs near the Scottsdale McDowell Sonoran Preserve on Thompson Peak Parkway heard the DDC history and background presentation from community leader, Andrea Keck. This was followed by guest speakers. From city council—Kathy Littlefield, Guy Phillips and Jim Lane. From city public works department--Gary Meyer plus former Chairman of the Preserve Commission, Jim Heitel and COGS Chairman Sonnie Kirtley.

 Some residents challenged commercialization of the Preserve as a violation with the current Preserve Ordinance and in conflict with the intent of the taxpayers to fund a “pristine” Preserve. Others cited proposed evening programs with lights, noise and traffic that would inhibit natural animal migrations. The considerable size increase from the originally proposed 1990s project  to 73,000 sq ft  and 15 buildings on 30 acres and a price tag of $74 million was described as not acceptable for the Gateway Trailhead location. One gentleman asked why would a city with an already strained budget consider a project that will operate in the “red” more than $1,700,000 per year.  Another man described it as an unnecessary duplication of the already successful educational programs conducted by the McDowell Sonoran Preserve Conservancy. He added that they already do scientific research in collaboration with ASU and with the assistance of the Trail Stewards. Clapping erupted when a speaker requested a public vote on the DDC and whatever funding was planned. Petitions calling for public vote were available for signatures.

 The DDC contractor did not respond to an invitation to be a part of the agenda. ( Former Mayor Sam Campana plus former city manager Richard Bowers are in that LLC.) Dan Worth of the city Public Works Department explained that the city asked them not to participate.  The city had its own speaker and slide show. Two city-hosted public meetings are planned: April 20th at 5:30 pm in the Museum of the West theater and April 21st at 6:30 pm at Highlands Church at 9050 Pinnacle Peak Road.   link will provide you with more information.

 The COGS position supports the residents. (1) When the Desert Discovery Center plan is finalized it must be presented to the registered voters to approve or reject. (2) No Preserve Funds should be used for any purpose other than improvement to trails and trailheads. (3) Optional DDC locations should be considered such as the 80 acres that the city owns near WestWorld.  It would capitalize on the spectators at WestWorld and could provide a free trolley to the Gateway or other trailheads for the Preserve experience.

    HOT ISSUE # 2    Special Events Ordinance update was approved by city council Tuesday night 6 to 1. It took many months of negotiations and spiced with the Downtown merchants’ petition of 200 plus signatures opposing the original draft.  Councilman David Smith made the motion with 3 amendments  (1) “special” would be an adjective placed in front wherever the word “event” occurs  (2) “An event shall not occur more than 10 consecutive days or 24 total calendar days during the year and no more than 10 in any calendar quarter.”  (3) “An art related event shall not be approved by the event administrator in the area within the Downtown (as defined by the Downtown Character Area Plan) if it conflicts with a scheduled Thursday night ArtWalk.”  The Farmers Market is not limited as it can be licensed  as a retail-business every Saturday on the city parking lot. Councilwoman Milhaven was the only NO vote.

 FREE LANDSCAPE WORKSHOP: Smart Irrigation Controllers this Saturday, March 19th from 10 am to 1 pm in the Granite Reef Senior Center at 1700 N Granite Reef Road (NW corner of McDowell Rd/Granite Reef Rd) Learn new technology that will save up to 30%.

 PLANNING COMMISSION city hall HEARING cases Wed. March 23rd at 5 pm  LaBella Breeza 10915 & 10965 E.Shea request to rezone from Rural to Suburban/medium density on 4 plus acres; Assumption Greek Orthodox Church 8202 E Cactus Rd request to add additional height; Skye on McDowell SW corner McDowell & 70th St request to change zoning from Mixed Use to Urban on 8 acres (6855 thru 6925)

 CITY COUNCIL LAND  CASES in city hall on Tuesday, March 29th Shoeman Office and parking garage 4419 N Scottsdale Rd/7223 & 7233 E Shoeman Lane request to build a high-rise office building through zoning change to Planned Block Development and a Text Amendment to increase height 6 feet above that currently allowed in the Downtown area.

 ACTIVITIES TO MARK ON YOUR CALENDAR:  Thursday night-ArtWalk 7 to 9 pm ...Italian Festival on Marshall Bridge Saturday and Sunday with food, music and cultural activities...Sunday A’Fair free outdoor concert on Civic Center lawn.  During next week don’t miss the Thursday, March 24th 1 pm  in the Museum of the West [on Marshall Way south of the Main Street] The OK Chorale combines the history of the Old West with cowboy music to tell the tales of the people, places, and events that produced the legends of the western frontier

For the Coalition of Greater Scottsdale (COGS) Board of Directors, 
     Sonnie Kirtley, Chair e-mail 
     Coalition of Greater Scottsdale
     8924 E. Pinnacle Peak Rd., Suite G5, PMB 518
     Scottsdale, AZ 85250

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