A long-planned and much-debated project, that could see the construction of an educational and tourist facility designed to increase an awareness of the desert, may be significantly impacted by Scottsdale, Arizona voters in November.
Proposition 420, which made it to the ballot this summer after a petition drive securing 30,000 signatures, would require that any future plans to build inside the McDowell Sonoran Preserve must first win the approval of the city’s voters.
The proposition, advanced by a group called Protect Our Preserve, is in response to a move to build a nearly 48,000 square foot center in the McDowell Sonoran Preserve.
That proposed structure, smaller than an earlier 72,000 square foot version, would cost an estimated $68 million to build and would be used to educate students and visitors about desert living.
As envisioned, the center would feature interactive exhibits, indoor and outdoor pavilions, and courtyards. The facility would also house a small café and gift shop.
Originally called the Desert Discovery Center, the facility is now known as the Desert Edge, and would also be used in conjunction with Arizona State University’s Global Drylands Institute, a program that studies arid ecosystems.
Opponents of the project say a built structure would disturb the natural environment of the 30,000-acre preserve, which includes the McDowell Mountains and more than 160 miles of walking and biking trails.
Protect Our Preserve supporters say they were forced to go the ballot route after earlier efforts asking the Scottsdale City Council to curb the Desert Edge project failed.
If successful, Proposition 420 would only apply to new construction in the preserve
By Garry Boulard
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