Scottsdale to bid on 400 acres for McDowell preserve

By Curtis Riggs | August 5, 2009

Just northeast of DC Ranch
SCOTTSDALE – The Scottsdale City Council is moving to acquire 400 acres of State Trust Land destined to be included in the 36,000-acre McDowell-Sonoran Preserve.

Scottsdale Preservation Director Bob Cafarella said city officials intend to acquire 400 acres northeast of DC Ranch, which the State Land Department is putting up for action this fall.

To City Councilman Bob Littlefield, bidding on the 400 acres is necessary to help create a better relationship with the land department and new State Land Commissioner Maria Baier.

Littlefield and fellow Scottsdale City Councilman Tony Nelssen met with Baier last week soon after the city council announced its intention to bid.

The anticipated price for the property is $6.5 million, $15,000 an acre. City officials state the Scottsdale General Plan has the land designated as open space and maintain many developers may not bid on it.

"It is important to begin a dialogue with the State Land Department now to ensure more cooperation on other land acquisitions," Littlefield said.

A better relationship with the land department is sought because the only land still available within the preserve boundaries is State Trust Land.

Nelssen said because the parcel is landlocked and suitable for conservation the council has reason enough to bid on the property.

Cafarella agrees an attempt to establish better communication with the land department is important, but added the city is moving forward on this purchase because last week the council gave the go ahead to begin acquisitions within the preserve boundaries. "We hope there will be more in the near future because that is what the state wants us to do," he said.

Baier called Scottsdale's efforts to establish an open-space preserve "the realization of the dream."

The land department could set a date for the auction of this parcel at its Aug. 13 meeting. The auction will not take place before October because of land department advertising and posting requirements.

The parcel is bordered by alignments of Pinnacle Peak and Deer Valley roads and runs approximately from 108th to 112th streets.

The pending acquisition would bring the total of land devoted to open space to over 15,000 acres.

"Few other cities in the United States can say one-third of their city is open space," Nelssen said.