The Cost of the Preserve

Howard Myers sent this email out today in response to an article in the Scottsdale Republic covering Tuesday night’s City Council work-study session. Among the items covered was how to fund additional land purchases to continue moving toward the goal of completing the McDowell Sonoran Preserve in North Scottsdale.

You can watch the video of the discussion and Howard’s presentation, starting at about 3:20:00 with Item 3. Item 1 is a presentation from the Bond Task Force [putting it on the ballot will be delayed], and Item 2 is a discussion about the proposed Desert Discovery Center. Obviously, all three items are tied together, so if you have time (who does?) you may want to watch all three items.

Update 3/30/12: According to an article on AZCentral, the state matching funds option is still alive.


The Arizona Republic published an article on the City Council meeting last night where the McDowell Sonoran Preserve Commission presented their report on finishing the Preserve, including land acquisition priorities and funding strategies to complete the Preserve. I gave that presentation so I can tell you there are some misleading statements in the article, but the Republic is also conducting one of those secret on line surveys where they make some statements that are simply wrong, mainly that the remaining land will cost $550 million with an additional $60M for trail heads, etc.

First, no one can accurately predict the cost of the land but the estimated costs presented were anywhere from $200M to $500M as a function of a lot of variables. Second, no one mentioned an additional $60M for improvements, unless you want to include the Desert Discovery Center, which is a whole separate topic. We have built trails and trail heads all with existing funds.

Also, there was no agreement to “analyze” the cost of the land because no one can predict what that cost will be in the future, just as any predictions of the cost of the land we have already acquired were highly inaccurate at the time they were made, and I might add much higher than what we paid for the land.

The best we can do is start raising money now so we have it when the land goes up for sale. That strategy has allowed the City to purchase a lot of land in the last couple of years, taking advantage of much lower land prices.

The good news is that, by the end of 2012, we will have purchased about 80% of all the land within the Preserve boundary, and will have built a lot of trails and trail heads for public access, all with the existing funds. So any additional funds required are to be prepared to purchase the remaining land at the best time.

The article also mentions that the city is to conduct a cost vs. benefit analysis to show that purchasing the land would be cheaper in the long run that allowing it to be developed, because development costs the city money each and every year forever, not just one time as in the purchase of land. Having been involved with the Preserve for 16 years, I can tell you the benefits far outweigh the cost.

The Arizona Republic on line survey asks if the city should spend $550M to buy the remaining land, so I would encourage you to take that survey and answer it as you honestly feel, but realize the $550M is their estimate of the upper end, the additional $60M is simply wrong and not anticipated at all, and to my knowledge they don’t have a crystal ball either.

The link to the article and Preserve Question is here.

Once again, thank you for supporting this very special area in the very special city we are fortunate enough to live in.

By the way, the bill going through the legislature to sweep the remaining Arizona Preserve Initiative funds was defeated, so those funds will still be available to help Scottsdale purchase Preserve land. A special thanks to everyone who helped defeat it.

Howard Myers

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