Opinion

Opinion: Rethinking Scottsdale’s athletic fields bond project

Posted 1/11/21

Editor’s Note: Ms. Sturgeon and Mr. Norton wish it known that although they are active in a variety of civic organizations this op-ed represents their individual thoughts and not those of any …

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Opinion

Opinion: Rethinking Scottsdale’s athletic fields bond project

Posted

Editor’s Note: Ms. Sturgeon and Mr. Norton wish it known that although they are active in a variety of civic organizations this op-ed represents their individual thoughts and not those of any of organization.

Two years ago our city was struggling to get past the mistrust engendered by Prop 420.

In April of 2019, we, and many others, agreed to join forces to promote the approval of the city bond proposal. Forming the Bond PAC and working with and through disparate voices we all learned lessons about the importance of integrity. Although we continue to have differences on other civic issues we do so from a position of mutual respect.

On Jan. 12, staff will present to the City Council a plan for $40 million to be spent on the athletic fields project, also known as Project 53 in the bond literature. This is the first major bond project from the 2019 voter approved bond questions.

We both supported the athletic fields project as described in 2018 and the use of bond funds for that project as proposed and approved.

It is our understanding that this current proposal calls for the expenditure of bond funds for purposes and at a location never disclosed prior to the November 2019 election.

We can not support a proposal to use bond funds to develop a park that was not part of bond Project 53 and at a location that was not included in Project 53. We, therefore, sadly object.

Bond Project 53 dealt with athletic fields at two specific locations. The 2019 literature for Project 53 described the expenditure as involving two parcels of land — one parcel on Bell Road and 94th Street snd another parcel at the rast end of Westworld near Thompson Peak Parkway and McDowell Mountain Ranch Road.

There was never any mention of land on 91st Street. Discussions about developing the 91st Street land arose late in 2020.

Those who defend spending bond funds on that 91st Street land for park purposes talk about bond language that allows construction of irrigation systems including water storage.

Twisting the language of the bond to justify spending money on land and for a purpose not disclosed in 2019 is a bad way to maintain voter trust. The 91st Street project goes well beyond water storage; it includes the construction of a park. We believe that the City Council should build a park there, but not under the guise that it is part of Project 53.

We urge our City Council to send this project back to the drawing board and find a way to complete Project 53 without violating voter trust and confidence so hard earned in the bond campaign and election.

Editor’s Note: Paula Sturgeon and Mike Norton are both residents of Scottsdale, and co-founders of For The Best Scottsdale, a political action committee supporting the city’s 2019 bond package.

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