Scottsdale's City Council voted Monday against allowing the public to vote on construction projects planned for its desert preserves.

The move was indirectly related to the ongoing debate over the "Desert Discovery Center."

Discussions began 30 years ago to build an interpretive center and other educational attractions at the base of the McDowell Mountains in the McDowell Sonoran Preserve.

Proponents still hope to see the project completed, using a mix of public and private funds in a few years.

"The idea is to teach people how to love the desert, and to know why we set aside 30,000 acres as a community, to begin with," Melinda Gulick said.

Opponents don't think the preserve needs any further enhancement.

"I don't think bulldozing the natural environment to put up a building is an improvement. It's destruction," Betty Janik said.

The council considered a petition, which, among other things, would have paved the way for a public vote on the project.

"The citizens demand a right to vote on the project," opponent Jason Alexander told the council.

After two hours of discussion, most of the council voted "no" on the resolution.

Mayor Jim Lane supported it.

"I'm very concerned about not having the public weigh in on this," he said after the meeting.

The mayor and others in the crowd are vowing to bring the issue back to the table.

No decisions have been made on the Desert Discovery Center.

The city is expecting a master plan presentation in about one year.

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