Organizers of a proposed Boy Scouts of America-run youth campground at San Tan Mountain Regional Park tried to hash out their differences with supporters of an off-road bicycle trail in the same area, despite angry outbursts and interruptions during a heated public meeting Thursday.
The meeting, hosted by activist group San Tan Mountains Pride, came four days before Maricopa County Parks and Recreation officials are scheduled to review an updated park master plan.
The master plan is expected to include a "competitive" multi-use track for mountain biking, hiking and horseback riding in the park’s southeastern corner, but local Boy Scout leaders hope to replace the planned track with a 1,000-acre youth campground.
Despite failed efforts to reach a compromise in the past, representatives from the Scouts and the Mountain Bike Association of Arizona agreed to look at ways to accommodate both uses.
"We’re willing to talk, as long as we can fit it so it works," said Larry Abbott, Boy Scouts Grand Canyon Council chief executive.
Some park-area residents called for a compromise, while others criticized both proposals and even threatened to contact the American Civil Liberties Union about the Scouts’ plans if the campground is approved.
Opponents of the proposal have cited a recent U.S. District Court ruling that a Boy Scouts lease of public park land for an 18-acre camp in San Diego, Calif., violates the constitutional separation of church and state.
"This is pathetic," resident Tom Doyle said during the meeting. "Let’s all get together and make the thing work."
Mountain Bike Association member Jayne Abraham questioned if a compromise was possible, partly because the youth proposal includes limiting access to the public park.
Abraham also criticized Maricopa County officials for suggesting that both the trail and the campground be placed in the same area of the park.
"It seems like they just stuck us both down there to fight it out," she said.