Guest Editorial: Successes, Goals & Enthusiastically Seeking Re-election

By Solange Whitehead

It has been a packed few years at City Hall. Since 2018, we’ve expanded open space, approved new parks, dramatically raised the bar on development, protected neighborhoods and funding for vulnerable populations, took care of seniors, and welcomed everyone with a non-discrimination ordinance. Aligning City Hall policies with citizen priorities led to the passage of crucial, tax-neutral infrastructure bonds, the first General Plan in 20 years, and protected the McDowell Sonoran Preserve.

Kicking off 2022 with a New Downtown Park Proposal
I started 2022 with a motion to protect public land and create a new downtown park. My proposal advanced in a 5-2 Council vote.

Scottsdale’s value is rooted in past leaders boldly protecting valuable land creating parks, the greenbelt, the natural area open space ordinance, and the McDowell Sonoran Preserve. To perpetuate this value, today’s leaders must expand open space to balance growth. My proposed park at 5th and Goldwater will protect that last remaining public parcel on the canal.

2021: A Snapshot of Successes

Citywide Wins: After 2-years of resident engagement, voters approved a forward-looking General Plan. The City Council protected all residents with the passage of a non-discrimination ordinance. From short term rental to parking, Council strengthened ordinances to better protect residents.

Simply Better Development: 2021 marked a shift in development that expanded green design requirements to reduce urban heat, lowered heights and density, increased open space and pedestrian corridors, and gave residents a voice. The Council also approved the first project with a small workforce housing component.

Water Infrastructure: Scottsdale Water opened a new facility on Thomas Rd that treats contaminated water from four wells to drinking water quality. The facility expands the City’s water portfolio, reduces water hardness in the area, and (as a side benefit) expanded the size of Pima Park.

More Infrastructure: Fire stations 603 and 616 were completed as was an $11 million, FAA-funded runway project. The final Preserve trailhead opened at Pima & Dynamite along with the  Art DeCabooter Amphitheater and an accessible new trail called Camino Campana*.  *Honoring former Mayor Sam Kathryn Campana

Green initiatives: Council approved a 1MW solar project, EV charging stations are moving forward, newly installed irrigation technology is substantially reducing water usage by City parks, and a contract with a local nursery will recycle West World’s 40,000 tons of horse manure. For the 39th year, Scottsdale has been named a Tree City USA and the City hired a Sustainability Director.

Parks, Amenities, and Services: The Council established two new parks, completed the Bell Road Sports Fields, upgraded tennis courts citywide, and added pickleball courts. With new safety protocols and dedicated staff, the City re-opened and expanded hours at the senior centers, libraries, and pools.