More discontent over Scottsdale Desert Discovery Center plans

Scottsdale residents against a desert museum will walk with flashlights to bring attention to the project.

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. - Residents against plans for a Scottsdale desert museum took to the streets Friday, and held a flashlight walk to bring attention to the project. 

The project is controversial because it could be built right inside the McDowell Sonoran Preserve, something opponents of the project disagree with.

"The preserve is formed to prevent development from being in it, so number one, it contradicts that whole aspect," said Howard Myers, with Protect Our Preserve. 

Plans for the Desert Discovery Center have been in the works for decades, and have changed countless times. 

The most recent proposal, back in 2010, suggested a version that was about 70,000 square feet and cost about $70 million, but Sam Campana, the executive director of Desert Discovery Center, said those plans have been scrapped and it's back to the drawing board. 

"There is a lot of confusion," said Campana, referring to the 2010 sketches people still reference, "But we knew as soon as we came on that that was going to be too large for this site."

For Myers, and other opponents, adding any sort of structure to the preserve would take away from it. 

"No matter what proponents say, it really is a commercial development," He said. They're going to have a cafe, gift shop, and they're going to charge admission."

Campana thinks everyone has the same goal -- they just have different definitions of preservation. 

"We want to preserve and protect this preserve that we've set aside. We all want to do that," Campana said. "I think the other side says 'Stay out, that's how you preserve and protect.' We say 'Come and learn about it.'"

Myers said he has no problem with a museum, as long as it's not in the preserve. 

"In fact, I personally like the concept of a Desert Discovery Center, it's just how you do it and whether or not you destroy the experience they're here for," he said. 

Adding to the confusion of residents is the fact there is no concrete plan for the center yet. 

The Desert Discovery Center is currently halfway through an 18-month planning process. 

"So I can't tell you how big it is. I can't tell you how tall, how much it costs," said Campana. "But we are hard at work on that."

The next public meeting is scheduled to take place at the end of November, but the city has yet to decide on an exact time and place for that meeting.

Copyright 2016 KPNX


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