Once upon a time a group of neighbors in McDowell Mountain Ranch and a terribly odd no-growth activist teamed up to oppose the Ice Den on Bell Road near WestWorld. Proposed by the then Phoenix Coyotes 20 years ago it was meant to serve as a training facility for the franchise, and an incredible new amenity for kids and families. After a pitched battle that went all the way to the Arizona Supreme Court the project was allowed to proceed. Today, it stands as a Scottsdale point of pride and the best ice skating site in Arizona. Time has proved neighbor warnings of “gangs,” “traffic,” and “decreased property values” fallacious.
The episode reminds of a more contemporary debate about siting a flagship BASIS School campus at 128th and Shea.
The BASIS schools are the top ranked schools in Arizona and in some cases, the nation. The school’s history in the community is long and distinguished. Having schools of such renown is not unimportant to economic development efforts. They are the best in class, something Scottsdale has always aspired to whether it’s golf tournaments, car auctions, preservation, the arts, flood control projects or its quality of life.
But some neighbors, as happened with the Ice Den, all but invoke the Book of Revelations and the impending apocalypse if the best students in the area are there allowed to congregate in a more consolidated campus.
They are skating on thin ice.
Just as proponents of the Ice Den worked with city staff to resolve all key issues so it would be with the new BASIS school. Furthermore, the Ice Den has created more value not less for its part of the world. Families want to be near it. Kids love it. It attracts not distracts investment. The proposed BASIS school would likely have the same impact as attending families would want to be nearby, driving up demand for proximate homes.
For Scottsdale to chase away such an opportunity would be to resign its commitment to be the pre-eminent community in the Valley.
As the incomparable Ron Burgundy might say, “Stay Classy Scottsdale.” Our hope is similar, and that the city remain true to always pursuing, and getting, the best in class.