Scottsdale on Tuesday adopted a master plan for a 300-mile citywide system of linked recreation trails. But City Council members cautioned that the project will face hurdles for years to come.
One potential major obstacle was reflected in Councilman Bob Littlefield's sole vote against the plan.
He objected to including an option for routing a section of the system through the city's McDowell Sonoran Preserve, away from several adjoining subdivisions where many residents oppose a trail.
Littlefield said he disagreed with those residents who claim a trail near their homes will invade their privacy and threaten their security and property values.
His experience living in homes near recreation areas and paths is that the "negative impact (of trails) is zero," he said.
Littlefield called for the council to pick one of four optional alignments recommended by city planners for a trail to run through the neighborhood east of Pima Road near the McDowell Mountains.
He said allowing the possibility of a trail through the preserve "sends the wrong message about our commitment" to a genuine neighborhood trail system and to a separate plan that already has adequate and carefully designated access points for the preserve.
The council's 6-1 vote came after almost two hours of comments by residents, including several from the Pinnacle Peak Heights and Pinnacle Peak Vista subdivisions who said none of the city planners' options eases their fears about a trail close to their homes.
The area in question is a roughly one-mile stretch of Church Road south of Pinnacle Peak Road. City planners are recommending a trail along either side of Church Road or a trail through one of two nearby washes, Dobson Wash or Reata Wash.
The council heard Tuesday from Karen Cesare, a landscape architect hired by a Pinnacle Peak Vista subdivision homeowners association. She said residents' proposal to loop the trail into the McDowell Mountains offers hikers, bikers and horse riders a richer nature experience and more scenic views than any route through the residential area.
City trail planner Scott Hamilton said a route through the preserve would turn the area into a destination instead of a "pass-through" route, and attract more people into neighborhoods than the shorter trail connection the city proposes.
Most speakers — including city parks and recreation commissioners and members of equestrian and mountain biking groups — urged the council to pass the trails plan and resolve the Church Road issues later.
Scottsdale voters approved $2.5 million for the plan and trail development as part of a bond package passed in 2000.
It should be enough to provide trails in the next several years to most areas where demand is highest, Hamilton said.