Cantor: Response to Liebner’s take on SUSD, Phoenix Rising meeting

Posted 5/26/21

I take issue with Mr. Liebner’s comment re: how the meeting was handled by Mr. Collinsworth. The microphone was passed around and folks were allowed to comment and question. I was given the …

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Cantor: Response to Liebner’s take on SUSD, Phoenix Rising meeting


I take issue with Mr. Liebner’s comment re: how the meeting was handled by Mr. Collinsworth. The microphone was passed around and folks were allowed to comment and question. I was given the microphone and tried not to give it back.

You may question the vote, but there were several “young moms and dads” there who were trying to speak, but when they tried they were drowned out by those protesting. There were many shouts from the room. The parents did not want to create further disruption.

I was a bit embarrassed because the shouters were of my age group.

I was there, too, as I have been for all but one meeting whenever the subject of use for that property has come up, over the last 7.5 years. I am a Coronado High School grad, my sons graduated from Coronado, my grandchildren and great grandchildren attend schools in SUSD. I have lived here for 61 years. I have been active on the Site Council at Coronado and Tonalea as a representative of the community/neighborhood. Oh, and I am 74.

Over the last seven years a group of parents, neighbors and a couple of former district employees kept a close eye on the old Tonalea property. They worked with the SPD when vandals and squatters damaged the boarded up property.

“Close patrols” were arranged and officers with the K-9 unit exercised their dogs there several times a week and held training sessions there regularly.
When the buildings were to be torn down they asked the district to place signs at the property announcing that with a phone number to call for information. There were big banners on the fence along Oak Street and the 68th Street fence.

After the demolition they worked with the district to do some improvements that would help cut the dust, that was becoming a real problem.

When the Coyote problem was growing they worked with Scottsdale PD and Arizona Game and Fish and two different wildlife conservation groups for help in how to keep them out of the area and killing neighborhood pets. Coyotes were burrowing dens in the field.

In seven and a half years there were discussions with the city of Scottsdale under the Birdwell administration and when Dr. Kriekard was here, regarding the use of the property as a park. The city couldn’t afford it they said, but they would see if anything worthwhile came up that they could send the districts way.

Nothing was done in the dark, under the table behind closed doors.

Let’s be honest here. Every school with declining enrollment is a target for developers. In southern Scottsdale those schools are smack in the middle of densely built single family residential areas.

We have seen over the last almost 10 years that our City Council was willing to roll over and play dead giving every high rise high density project developer every amendment they asked for on infill projects.

Knowing that, living that, those who cared took the time to stay involved to protect their neighborhood and to make sure that projects that would benefit the children of the neighborhood and allow the district to retain the property for future use as delivery of educational programs required re-purposing land and buildings.

Obviously, with the cost of land, the district could not afford to buy property for those purposes.

The saddest take away, for me, from that community meeting was the complaints about noise. I borrowed a decibel meter from the District 1 Scottsdale police office. I spent over a week traveling to many sights in Scottsdale and surrounding communities taking readings from the parking lots at those fields where soccer was being played, from the alley ways, and a block away. There is little to report, the needle didn’t move unless a siren or tractor-trailor truck went by.

I hear more music/sounds from the bar district and I live a bit over a mile from it.

The school district owes the Tonalea school community for a multitude of things, some done purposely to cause enrollment to decline, somethings done purposely to cause the actual buildings to fall into greater disrepair.

Seven and a half years is a long time; some community members cared enough to stay informed.

Editor’s Note: Nancy Cantor is a longtime Scottsdale resident and community advocate.