Guest Column: The time has come for Stilo, Tusayan residents to work together
Opponents of progress in Tusayan are at it again. Just as ground was being broken on a new affordable housing development in town, 12 residents have stopped the town council from assuming flood plain duties , delaying new houses from being built until summer at the very earliest.
This is after two different elected Town Councils (2016 & 2018 ) voted 5-0 in favor of assuming floodplain management duties from Coconino County. Now, instead of moving forward on the project, a May election over floodplain management looms in Tusayan.
Sadly, this means yet another local special election pitting progress against more of the same, and petty campaign rhetoric over working together.
The Stilo Development Group, which donated the land where the housing would be located, was criticized last week by Tusayan landowner Clarinda Vail in the Grand Canyon News for somehow secretly pushing this and other issues against residents’ will. The truth is, Stilo has not formally weighed in on the flood plain management issue whatsoever. In general, however, we believe one big reason the town incorporated is to control its own future and not rely on Coconino County for everything. We are confident Tusayan residents can handle these duties and many more, and we’ve said so publicly for over 10 years.
And contrary to Vail’s attack blog’s statement that floodplain management is “something very few cities or towns in Arizona are willing or able to do ,” it’s quite the opposite. Numerous cities and towns across Arizona either have their floodplains administered by staff or hire firms to manage it for them, including the nearby cities of Flagstaff, Page, Fredonia, Prescott, Prescott Valley and Williams.
Stilo has been unfairly criticized by Vail for many things, including sponsoring voter registration drives in local elections. Since when is voting a crime? Civic participation should be encouraged, not used as a weapon to suppress voter turnout as she has done using Phoenix lawyers .
In fact, we are proud of our record in Tusayan when compared to our opponents, who prefer to keep things the way they have been for decades, so they can make their fortune on the backs of others. Stilo supported incorporation, they opposed it. Stilo supported housing at Camper Village, they opposed it. Stilo supported the Forest Service road easements application that would have created even more independent housing, they opposed it. Stilo supports the town’s new affordable housing project at Ten-X, they oppose it.
Just like during the incorporation debate ten years ago, they think Coconino County government is a better steward of Tusayan’s future than the town’s own elected council and residents. We disagree.
As visitorship to the Grand Canyon National Park continues to increase, so does the burden on the Park’s resources. According to the Department of Interior, the Park currently has an estimated deferred maintenance backlog totaling over $329 million . A badly needed new water pipeline could cost at least another $100 million .
Stilo is hopeful residents in Tusayan and government agencies can come together to address the long-term challenges in the region, including housing, water, traffic, visitor amenities and local needs. We believe the private sector can play an important role in future planning that balances these priorities with appropriate stewardship of the pristine public lands in the area. Stilo is working to move forward these conversations, but it will take local leadership to make it happen, not obstruction for obstruction’s sake.
Stilo stands committed to work with residents to get your town’s future right. We aren’t perfect. We’ve made mistakes, and we hope we can do better in this new year. But we need your help – it’s your town and we understand it’s a special place. It’s time to work together to bring out Tusayan’s tremendous potential and leave small-ball politics in the past where it belongs.