This “My Turn” appeared in today’s Scottsdale Republic:
Safety of residents, tourists should be priority at bar gantlet
It’s kind of hard to believe that a second-time offender, following a murder, gets away with “business as usual.”
It wasn’t too long ago that as residents of Scottsdale, we would go to Old Town, the original Un Bacio (Gianfranco’s at Pinnacle Peak), Don & Charlie’s (still a favorite, and Don Carson has a great product), the Original Down-Side Risk and Dutch John’s. These were all safe. But what has become this “bar zone” is no longer part of our weekend sojourn to the gantlet that is Scottsdale Road, and the miscreant transients who are welcomed there make us decide for the alternative.
This all said, the murder victim was a Martini Ranch employee. At a minimum, Martini Ranch is not providing a safe workplace environment and its employees should react, both socially and legally. After the more recent stabbing, it should minimally have been closed for 90 days. That closing would have no negative effect on Scottsdale, as the “boozedrug” zone has enough clubs, saloons and watering holes to pick up the slack.
There is, however, a natural expectation that the entertainment district should be safe. If the city cannot provide this, than it could be complicit and liable for what happens.
Unfortunately, the short-term thinking that oversees Scottsdale’s downtown lowers the bar regarding what we are and what makes Scottsdale different. It also compromises what would be bigger-ticket purchases, such as dining — arguably the district’s two centerpieces, the Galleria and Waterfront, have seen attrition in dining — which I suggest makes people no longer want to deal with the hassle of parking, the slugs on the street and their bad behavior.
Not to be deterred, the mayor and City Council decided to expand this cancer when they approved Scottsdale Quarter, where beatings and other bad behavior have taken place in public and in its parking garage. It is interesting that across the street, with dining as the principal draw, Phoenix’s Kierland Commons thrives and is safe. It provides better parking and the benefit of a mid-block pedestrian crossing that restricts traffic flow on our hallmark street, Scottsdale Road.
With land at a premium, I would respectfully discourage pandering to developers who want to build only apartments to increase a resident population that does not pay property taxes and has no investment in our city. Such residents simply poach on what has been created over 120 years and what has been an icon of luxury lifestyle and quality of life. This tangential residential issue saps personnel and resources and exacerbates traffic issues.
Let’s keep Scottsdale safe for residents and tourists alike — that is our future.
Randy Rogers has been a Scottsdale resident since 1991.