Control over plan for preserve center at issue - East Valley Tribune: East Valley Local News

Control over plan for preserve center at issue

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Posted: Saturday, June 28, 2008 5:55 pm | Updated: 11:44 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

The Scottsdale City Council is injecting itself into the Desert Discovery Center debate with hope of identifying who will oversee the planning for the future gateway to the McDowell Sonoran Preserve.

Scottsdale breaks ground for preserve 'Gateway'

Groups aim to decide desert center design

"My sense was after talking to people that the question of who was in charge was getting out of hand," said Scottsdale Councilman Bob Littlefield, who asked for the discussion scheduled for Tuesday.

Preserve gateway (future Desert Discovery Center), Scottsdale Rd., Pima Rd., Loop 101, Planned McDowell Sonoran Preserve, Shea Blvd., Carefree Hwy., Rio Verde Dr., Bell Rd., Scott Kirchhofer/TRIBUNE, East Valley Tribune, Scottsdale Tribune

Littlefield said he hopes to work out any conflicts among the task force created by the council to oversee planning the center, the nonprofit McDowell Sonoran Conservancy and other city commissions and groups.

"It's time for us to make it clear who's in charge, who's going to make the recommendation to the council and maybe even set some deadlines or milestones," Littlefield said. "This is not about forcing to choose between competing interests but about getting something done that's in everyone's interest."

Earlier this month, Scottsdale unveiled two design scenarios for the center, one a $20 million "McDowell Portal" recreation facility and the other a $50 million "Exhibition Sonora" destination attraction.

The consultant's report says the larger version would be an iconic attraction with a high national profile, including possibly the experience of walking through a giant mock rattlesnake's mouth and its digestive tract.

Both scenarios call for a state-of-the-art desert interpretive center with multimedia exhibits, educational programs and access to the preserve.

Both scenarios include a 3-D theater and planetarium and an outdoor amphitheater, but the larger scenario features them on a grander scale.

The larger scenario would also include a destination-themed retail shop and cafe, according to the consultant's report.

The Desert Discovery Center, talked about for nearly two decades, is planned for the preserve gateway east of Thompson Peak Parkway, between Bell Road and Union Hills Drive.

Also Tuesday, the council is set to discuss Scottsdale's trails outside the McDowell Sonoran Preserve and a priority list with 41 projects.

Today, Scottsdale has completed 143 miles of trails for walkers, bikers and horse riders, with 146 miles still beingplanned.

The city must still acquire access for 65 miles of planned trails.

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