Scarp: Vote might spur action on downtown plan - East Valley Tribune: Opinion

Scarp: Vote might spur action on downtown plan

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Posted: Saturday, June 28, 2008 10:47 pm | Updated: 9:51 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

Welcome again to Scarp’s Scottsdale Sunday brunch, a review of the week’s news where there’s soooo much to choose from. Strangely, no one ever comes back for seconds. …

Read Mark Scarp's blog, 'Scarpsdale'

• This past week some politically active local residents have been calling for the City Council to put the revised downtown plan — a road map for development that has been awaiting updating for years — before voters rather than have it decided by the council.

No downtown plan has gone to the ballot before; the City Charter requires that revisions to the city general plan, a similar development guide, but for the entire city, go before voters every 10 years.

But the general plan isn’t to be on the ballot until 2012.

This puts into play Scarp’s Fourth Law of Scottsdale Politics: To learn what the public truly believes is not why elections are called for; rather, those calling for one do so only because they feel they’ll win.

Applying this law, then, we must ask: Is there a groundswell of Scottsdale residents who seek a simpler, gentler Scottsdale of old rather than the more urban one of recent years? According to this line of thinking, such a groundswell would therefore swamp a downtown plan promoted by the current regime at City Hall.

If that’s true, then there should be more than enough voters to sign a petition to put a downtown plan on the ballot. It would be a more productive activity than expressing frustration about the council not doing it.

As reported in Friday’s Tribune, fears about pharmaceuticals in Scottsdale water — as have turned up in trace amounts elsewhere in this country — evaporated when the city announced results of tests for 14 such substances that found no trace at all of 13 of them.

Only — boo! — caffeine showed up, and in such microscopic amounts that city officials said a person would have to drink 5.6 million gallons of Scottsdale tap water to ingest the same amount of caffeine as found in one cup of coffee.

That’s enough water to fill 280 typical 20,000-gallon swimming pools.

So, is that cup grande or venti?

The proposed $30 million Museum of the West in downtown Scottsdale came to mind the other night as I watched on a cable channel the 1984 Western-revival film “Silverado.”

I love “Silverado” because it is an archetype.

By 1984, decades after the heyday of the Western movie, it was plain that the film’s producers wanted to pack as many things fans of the genre remember into it that they could.

It features a gunfight in the street that’s an obvious homage to “High Noon.” There’s a cattle stampede, several saloon fights and card games (with tinkling piano music in the background), and a bunch of other Western staples topped by a ride off into the sunset.

Thursday’s Tribune reported that designs for the Museum of the West were revealed to the city Development Review Board.

Rather than debate the design of the building — it isn’t anything you’d see in either Zane Grey or “Silverado” — consider that the museum’s biggest challenge will be overcoming some historical hurdles.

For one, Scottsdale itself was never a real “Western” town. But we’re the ones hosting the multimillion-dollar Museum of the West.

So, should the Hollywood version of the Old West, the one most visitors from elsewhere think of, guide the placement of exhibits there, or should the real thing, which is less than “Silverado”-like?

Which museum would you travel across the country to visit?

Or walk into if you came upon it after already having arrived?

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