A 10-year, $90 million master plan for Scottsdale’s 160-acre WestWorld event center has received federal environmental approval, clearing the way for the city to set in motion individual projects.
The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation has declared improvements and expansion planned for the city-run facility in compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act.
The agency concluded the project would not impede the land’s function as a major water-retention basin or otherwise threaten the environment.
The land is owned by the federal government and managed by the Bureau of Reclamation because it is in a regional flood-control area.
Scottsdale officials still are exploring funding sources for projects set forth in the master plan that the City Council approved last year. It includes conceptual designs for a $28 million, 155,000-squarefoot multipurpose exhibit hall, an outdoor amphitheater, covered equestrian arenas, more horse barns and additional public parking.
It also includes plans to purchase more than 50 acres of adjoining state trust land to expand WestWorld.
City leaders hope improvements will bring additional revenue by luring more major events to the venue. It already hosts the popular Barrett-Jackson classic auto show, the All-Arabian Horse Show and Arizona Sun Country Circuit Quarter Horse Show, among more than 100 events each year.
The project "will actually improve the environment,’’ said WestWorld manager Brad Gessner. Covering arenas will protect nearby residential areas from the glare of lighting and noise from WestWorld activities, Gessner said.
Other changes will result in better traffic control in the area, he said.
Scottsdale’s green building standards will be applied to any new construction at West-World, said Larry Person, the city’s environmental coordinator. The standards are meant to ensure energy-efficient features are incorporated into buildings and other facilities, to promote use of building materials made from renewable resources and to protect the natural surroundings.
Analysis of the master plan also concluded WestWorld improvements would have no negative impact on cultural resources in the area, such as nearby archaeological sites, said Jennifer Frownfelter, an environmental planner with URS Inc., the engineering firm that prepared the study.
Each new WestWorld construction project will be required to undergo additional design and engineering review to further assure the area’s flood-control capability won’t be hindered, Frownfelter said.