Announcing ScottsdaleTrails

As you probably know, I have for many years worked to be an advocate for my downtown neighborhood of Peaceful Valley, and for other neighborhoods and residents around Scottsdale. Many of us have bemoaned the lack of in-depth, critical, and timely reporting of issues and events in Scottsdale. That situation has been exacerbated by a shift in the mission of the Chamber of Commerce away from business advocacy and toward political activism on behalf of big business (mostly development) interests.

While I have tremendous respect for a number of the reporters and columnists at the Arizona Republic, the close relationship between the Chamber and the management of theĀ  Republic has clearly affected coverage of Scottsdale news. The demise of the only competitor to the Republic–the Scottsdale Tribune–has removed an important motivation for the Republic to do better.

Many years ago I began formulating the idea of trying to provide more detailed information to the public about both city government and all the wonderful amenities we have in Scottsdale. I’ve been sitting on the domain name ever since. But I haven’t been doing nothing in the meantime.

I’ve stayed engaged with city staff, the City Council, and the Mayor. I’ve served on city task forces and city commissions. I continue to seek out value in community amenities and businesses. Most importantly, I’ve continued to engage with folks like you who are concerned about protecting and nurturing what it is that makes Scottsdale special. We don’t necessarily all agree on exactly what those qualities are, but we are in absolute agreement that the folks who should have the final say are the residents.

Various groups have formed through the years to try to fight this battle or that battle with city hall, and all have had some degree of success. Those groups include Coalition of Pinnacle Peak (COPP), The Greater Pinnacle Peak Association, Friends of the Scenic Drive, North East Scottsdale Property Owners Association (NESPOA), the Scottsdale Coalition, the Community Council of Scottsdale, and many others. These groups all have passion, but the issues tend to be geography-dependent and Scottsdale is very geographically diverse.

However, as the developers and a willing city staff and city council majority grow increasingly bolder, they’ve upped their game from picking off one neighborhood at a time, to pretty much doing it all over the city. The big money flowing into and being spent by the Chamber of Commerce on election campaigning has changed the game.

Sonnie Kirtley and the Coalition of Greater Scottsdale (COGS) has done perhaps the best job of bridging most of the issues of concern to most of the residents, and continues to this day providing insight to all who seek it. I hope to take this sharing of insight to the next level by using email, the Web, and social media to get the message out to even more residents and visitors.

I was recently inspired to resurrect this old idea by my neighbors Lyle Snodgrass and Jennifer Doolittle, with whom I’ve been working toward launching a website specific to our neighborhood. The final straw was provided by new friend and now partner in ScottsdaleTrails, Michelle Agner, who said to me, “You should share your knowledge with everyone!”

So after a few hundred hours of web design (mostly by Michelle), encouragement by our spouses and interested friends, a sudden downturn in resident respect from city hall, and an economy that continues to lag, forcing us to seek out value in entertainment and activities…here we are.

Your suggestions and feedback are always welcome. Story ideas and personal insight will make ScottsdaleTrails a better tool for all of us. Please take a look and tell me what you think.

Please subscribe, read, post comments, send links to your friends and fellow interested citizens, and help us get the word out!



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  1. This is such an amazing website. Wonderful information, easy to understand and the website is a breeze to navigate. I always end up getting lost on the city website and then just give up because I can never find what I need. From now on I’ll come to your website John! Thank you for taking the time to put something like this together – I LOVE it!

  2. Bravo! This website is a monumental task, and it has the potential of being a valuable resource and “voice” for Scottsdale citizens – if the public’s general apathy can be overcome. While I may not agree with every position taken herein, I applaud the thought and good intentions behind each stance. One technical suggestion: if possible, it would be better when clicking on an external news story link to open a separate browser window, rather than having to leave the Scottsdale Trails website.

    1. Thanks for the suggestion, Nancy. We, too, would prefer that user experience, and we’re working on it. Hopefully I’ll find the solution in the next day or so. Thank you again!

  3. -Totally agree that someone/something is needed to fill the void when the Tribune & its Scottsdale Section shuttered! A source for more indepth information about our community & what’s really going on behind the scenes, is needed.
    Your efforts here are appreciated & I expect this will grow into something much bigger. -WW

  4. John, this is great and I congratulate you and Michelle for taking on such a mass project. I also want to thank your spouses for providing the support to get this project off the ground. I look forward to reading ScottsdaleTrails (or should it be ScottsdaleTails).

  5. John and Michelle,

    An amazing job putting the facts and figures in a logical orderly fashion so it makes for an easy and understandable read. I look forward to reading more!

    Great job.

  6. Great work John!! The only suggestion is to add some images to your articles. It helps when you have a long article. Just think about how much scrolling a user has to do to read the whole page. If it feels too long then many people will skim or bounce off that page. For example, this page’s article is 641 words. Most people won’t read past 500 words online. Of course it depends on the subject and your audience.

    Otherwise, great to hear, you are doing great things! Guess you don’t need my web design services over at

  7. Well done. Citizen coalitions are critical to the advancement of our cities, towns, states and nation. I applaud you for this wonderful opportunity to engage our community on issues that are important to us.

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