Scottsdale buys land for $2M to prevent flooding

SCOTTSDALE — Scottsdale has bought land at Apache Park owned by the Scottsdale Unified School District at a cost of $2.02 million.

The city plans to build improvements on the land at 85th Place and Moreland Street to protect against flooding in the area surrounded by houses in south Scottsdale.

In exchange for the park land, the city plans to sell its old human-resources building at 7575 E. Main St. to the school district for the same price of $2.02 million. The district will move its administrative offices to the downtown building, a report says.

After months of negotiations, the Scottsdale City Council approved the first part of the property swap Tuesday.

The city bought 4.6 acres at the park next to the former Apache Elementary School, where it plans to build a retention basin as part of a massive flood-control project known as the Granite Reef watershed, Public Works Director Dan Worth said.

Worth noted that the two transactions between the city and school district are not a direct trade. “Neither transaction is contingent on the other,” he said.

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A City Council report on the topic says flooding hazards in the area are “substantial” and “potentially damaging” for houses and other properties along the watercourse.

The improvements will curb flooding and drainage problems by providing storm-water retention, the report says.

The upgrades are part of the larger Granite Reef Wash watershed project, which would eliminate potential flood hazards affecting hundreds of residents and property owners.

More than 600 properties in Scottsdale will be removed from a floodplain as part of the Granite Reef watershed.

Scottsdale, the Maricopa County Flood Control District and the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community will share the cost of the larger project, expected to cost $24 million to $28 million.

The vote was 6-1 in support of the land sale, with Councilman Guy Phillips dissenting.

Phillips argued that the school district was buying the property “basically for free.” He said Scottsdale’s purchase is “basically what constitutes swamp land, because it’s going to be a retention basin.”

At a meeting next Tuesday, the City Council is expected to approve an agreement to sell the Main Street building to the school district.

The talks for the land swap began because the school district wanted to move out of its aging main office at 3811 N. 44th St. in Phoenix.

School district voters last fall approved the sale of the main district office building at 44th Street and Indian School Road.

In other action Tuesday, the Scottsdale City Council:

— Approved a nearly $400,000 contract with Phoenix-based Arrington Watkins Architects to design a fire station at Hayden Road south of Jomax Road.

The station will be designed over 16 months. Construction could begin in late 2016 and finish in 2017, according to the city.

The Scottsdale City Council has tentatively included the design and building costs for the station in a November bond election. The city would ask voters to raise taxes to take on new debt to fund the station and other projects.

— Turned down a rezoning that would have allowed Brown’s Classic Autos, 9024 E. Bahia Drive, to conduct on-site sales.

The current zoning doesn’t allow for vehicle sales.

Opponents voiced concerns that the new zoning would not match the character of the area.

Article source: http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/scottsdale/2015/04/30/scottsdale-land-prevent-flooding-southern/26630205/