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From No DDC

FINAL SURVEY RESULTS -- THANK YOU, SCOTTSDALE. 9,000 of you saw it including 4,000 who saw the Survey on NoDDC and 5,000 who saw the promoted ad. We promoted the survey to all 140,000 Facebook users in Scottsdale to try to get an unbiased and representative sample of voters.

Of those who opened the Survey over 84% completed at least the first 3 answers.

WHAT WE LEARNED: 5.86% want the DDC built on the Gateway Trailhead. That is it. Even after we goaded the DDCSI crowd in to trying to stuff the ballot box they could not get up to 6%.

62% do not want the DDC built on the Preserve under any circumstances. No matter how small and no matter whether voters approve it or not, they say they oppose all versions of the DDC. That answer was nearly 3 times more prevalent than any other answer.

Especially in South Scottsdale, where voters were not so concerned about preservation as they are about Taxes and Budgets. South Scottsdale is an overwhelming NoDDC Voting bloc that does not want an election because as one voter put it "why waste more money on an election when everyone knows we hate it". 78% of South Scottsdale simply said "No. Not under any circumstances". 16% said they would tolerate it if it was moved or there was an election and 5.9% said they approved.

We do not know how you could possibly change these trends. DDCSI just made its best pitch to impress the City and if anything it seems that voters became even more opposed after the big rollout of the relabled Edge project 2 weeks ago.

CHALLENGE TO DDCSI: You will refuse to accept the results of this Survey and insist that it was contrived. It was not. But you deflect all criticism. So why do we not do the next survey together and jointly manage the data? We are confident where this debate is going.

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We have already weighed in on the repackaged Desert Discovery Center now known as Desert Edge.  It calls to mind a name more reminiscent of a bad country band than a worthwhile expenditure of taxpayer dollars.

Our purpose now is not to regurgitate our most recent opinion (here is a link.)  It’s to raise a worthwhile question:  opportunity cost.

Proponents suggest taking tens of millions of tourism AND preserve tax dollars is worthwhile.  They say so because they believe the project can be self-sustaining (it won’t) and a major new tourism draw for the city.

But ask yourself this, who is going to come to Scottsdale just because of a glorified interpretive center, as opposed to that which it seeks to accentuate, and already exists?

Think of it this way, no matter what those on the edge of advocacy for their pet project can cull together it won’t be cooler or more dramatic than El Tovar at the South Rim of the Grand Canyon.  But people don’t travel to northern Arizona to see something man-made.  They do so because of the natural wonder.  And so will it be in Scottsdale.

The McDowell Sonoran Preserve with its extensive trails, views and majesty already IS a huge tourism draw.

So why not better highlight it, or expand it, rather than divert funds from both of these purposes?

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Few municipal projects have conjured as much controversy and consternation in recent years than the Desert Discovery Center (DDC), proposed as a Valyrian Steel-like Visitor Center at the Gateway of the McDowell Sonoran Preserve.

Opponents have ransacked the purported rationale, even though form often gets in the way of their substance.

Supporters, largely the inheritors of the idea’s inertia, often tout the grand tourism benefits they think the DDC will mean.  There are also those longing, and hoping, for Scottsdale’s next great thing.

This week proponents unveiled the latest design, touting the changes that had been made and how they listened to the community, as if that is something that shouldn’t have been done all along.

But alterations can’t alter something that is fundamentally flawed, and lesser than that which it seeks to accentuate.  Allow us to invoke football to make our point.  Patrick Peterson is the All-Pro Cornerback for the Arizona Cardinals.  The other person playing that position on defense is always “the guy playing opposite Patrick Peterson.” He’s secondary, just like a man-made attraction pales next to the real thing.

Quite simply, no one is going to come to Scottsdale because of the Desert Discovery Center.  Tourists will and do because of the Preserve itself.  If people want a related man-made attraction Taliesin West is far more compelling and sits on the preserve’s edge just a short throw away.  And it’s a far better location for the DDC too.  

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The former President was many things, including a splicing wordsmith.  During Ken Starr’s inquisition who can forget Clinton’s unforgettable, “It depends what the meaning of is, is.”

And that brings us to today, in Scottsdale.  And former long-time Scottsdale Planning Department staffer, now developer lobbyist, Don Hadder.

Hadder presided over city staff’s review and ultimate recommendation for the Troon North community approvals in the mid-1990s.  That work ultimately led some 1,800 homeowners into one of Scottsdale’s signature communities.  They relied on his work and word to invest in the community.  And rightfully so.

But now Hadder is singing a different tune, as the paid sycophant for an unproven, unknown group seeking to scar Troon North with an unsightly timeshare plan at its entrance.  For months Hadder has been working his former colleagues to find that which he wrote before about what’s allowed at Troon North to not be the case.   

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