Tusayan government hosts first town hall meeting

Over 50 attend meeting on housing, parks, and more

TUSAYAN, Ariz. - Over 50 individuals turned out for a town hall meeting hosted by members of the interim Tusayan Town Council on Aug. 4. The meeting was held at the Best Western Squire Inn and was facilitated by Grand Canyon Chamber of Commerce Board President Clayann Cook. Among the items discussed during the meeting were the need for housing in the area, town parks and other items.

Pete Shearer, interim Tusayan mayor, said those in attendance for the meeting treated one another with respect.

"The meeting went very well and the entire community was respectful to each other and to Clayann Cook, the town hall facilitator," Shearer said.

He said the town hall, which lasted over two hours, covered the need for two town parks in the area.

"We discussed grants and federal funding as mechanisms for paying for parks and recreational facilities," Shearer said. "This possibility dissipated the financial concerns and almost all in attendance seemed supportive of moving forward to create a better Tusayan through an IGA (intergovernmental agreement) with the school - for a community park and possibly the acquisition of park land by way of the Town Site Act on the northern boundary of Tusayan."

Interim Vice-Mayor Greg Bryan said he believed the meeting to be well attended by members of the community.

"People were engaged and there were a lot of questions asked and ideas offered. Clayann Cook did a good job of facilitating and encouraging people to participate," Bryan said. "The stage was set for future meetings where people will be able to dive in and explore the top issues and try to develop some consensus. Questionnaires were handed out and topics were to be ranked, as well as giving people the opportunity for expressing interest in either a Housing Committee or a Planning and Zoning Commission. The intent is to have the Council review the questionnaires results and utilize it in prioritizing their own work. All the names and personal information other than those that want to serve on committees would be kept confidential."

When it came to discussion of a possible community park in the Tusayan area, Shearer said the idea was "well-received" during the Aug. 4 town hall.

"There is already a very popular community garden inside the national park at the current Grand Canyon School. Support was expressed for a similar 'educational agricultural experience' for the kids in Tusayan as well," Shearer said.

Bryan said that, while the idea for a community garden was well-received, he does not consider it a priority at this time.

"The Community garden idea was well received but not a high priority at this time. Potential federal funding might move it up the scale of priority if land and funds became available," Bryan said.

Housing

A number of topics were discussed during the recent meeting when it comes to housing in the area. Among the items discussed was the formation of a housing committee, as well as the creation of a Planning and Zoning Commission for the town of Tusayan. Applications are currently being accepted for local residents interested in serving on the housing committee.

"This committee will work with the housing assessment firm to expedite the process and to be sure that all facets of local housing needs are included," Shearer said. "The RFP (Request for Proposals) for the housing assessment has been issued and we hope to select a firm soon. The Housing Committee will also make recommendations to the Tusayan Town Council once the study has been completed."

The Town Site Act, Shearer said, could take up to two years to be completed. Possible uses that would result from the act, he added, would include residential housing, a town hall building, parks and fields, flood retention basins, and a town maintenance building, he added.

"One thing that we absolutely need to have in place before the application is received by the United States Forest Service is a long-term strategic plan," Shearer said.

Bryan said the need for housing was discussed at length during the meeting.

"How it might be made available, the RFP for the Housing Needs Assessment that is underway, what it might tell us, how will they gather the information, can we do it on our own, potential costs for the study and what would we do with the information," Bryan said. "Concerns expressed included costs, would employers simply stop providing housing at all, how to keep housing affordable in terms of purchase in the long-term, what types of housing would be included in planning and the mix of rentals and purchase."

Bryan said there was also interest in a housing committee, one that could include non-residents.

"It was expressed that a Housing Committee would enable non-council residents to be involved in the process and share the work load," Bryan said. "A sample poll indicated that there was support for non-current Tusayan Residents that have a desire to participate, might be involved on the Committee. The Committee would interface with the assessment vendor, help layout plans for the future types of housing and gather community input."

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