Guest column: Tusayan town hall a success despite small turnout

Although only 17 residents showed for the Thursday evening meeting, the meeting was a huge success. The meeting moderator was ClayAnn Cook. Sharyl Allen, Bob Kelso, and Dawn O'Sickey acted as facilitators of the three groups. Many thanks from the community to these three for taking time to help. The groups voiced opinions on housing options and the tone of the entire meeting was cordial and open. Residents from both sides spoke freely, without the recent political tensions in any way showing through. All groups shared remarkably similar visions.

It was disappointing to only see one member of the newly elected town council present to join in and to learn about community housing visions, while a majority of the outgoing council was present to listen and to participate.

A consensus on housing was shared by all three groups. Mixed housing types with standards, a variety of economic ranges for all levels of the Tusayan work force, various lot sizes, green sustainable building techniques, and housing availability for Park and Valle residents were all values expressed as desirable by all three groups. With the inclusion of becoming the area housing solution for the Park and Valle the Town Site Act seemed to be an option that could accommodate additional housing needs, as the community would rapidly out grow the 40 acre proposed housing area.

Most in attendance expressed the desire to own their own homes, but a substantial number expressed a desire for rental units. Many in the work force own homes in other areas and some work seven on/seven off and share apartments while in Tusayan.

Also, there is a desire for more commercial properties to be made available for new small business opportunities. While all supported churches, no ringing of church bells was expressed by several people.

Several questions were asked regarding when the new housing will be available and what is the definition of "affordable housing?"

Regarding the 40 acres that may be offered to the town for housing, the question was asked as to who is going to pay for the infrastructure and how will this affect affordability?

The meeting was a success and has set the stage for open and honest communication. Hopefully in the coming weeks there can be another town meeting to have some of the questions answered.

The majority of my group wanted to see Tusayan continue to become a model sustainable community and expressed the desire that the housing areas would also be something we can all be proud of.

While we all agreed that employer-provided housing will continue to be a viable option for many, the main benefit of private home ownership is the separation of work life from our home life. This is an exciting time. Let's work cooperatively to make this the best community possible for all.

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