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Old 07-08-2013   #1
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GCPBA RiverNews 7/4/13 - Bodaway stakeholders seek answers to Grand Canyon Escalade

GCPBA RiverNews 7/4/13 - Bodaway stakeholders seek answers to Grand Canyon Escalade's fate

Posted on July 4, 2013 by Halne'Ú

By Renae Yellowhorse STC (Save the Confluence) correspondent -

BODAWAY - A 15-month-old economic feasibility study for the controversial Grand Canyon Escalade expired Monday without word from the Navajo Nation over whether the project stalled or will continue to move forward.

The Feb. 21, 2012, memorandum of understanding, between the Navajo Nation and the Scottsdale-based Confluence Partners LLC, allowed the company to do the following: Study the possibility of whether a tourist-destination site is suitable to locate on the northeast rim of the Grand Canyon in Western Navajo.

The result of the feasibility study has not been shared with the public.

The Partners proposed to find investors to pay for a $120 million resort, a museum, a parking lot, a restaurant and a tram, which would take visitors to the bottom of the Grand Canyon. The partners asked the Navajo Nation to pay $60 million to cover the cost of paying a road and installing water and bringing utility lines to the site, which is in a far remote area of southern Bodaway.

The partners had planned to get an agreement approved by the Navajo Nation Council this month, according to the MOU. The pursuit of an agreement apparently failed to meet the July 1 deadline because the Escalade was not a part of the Navajo Nation Council's special session Thursday and Friday in Window Rock.

A group of southern Bodaway stakeholders attended the council meeting and questioned Deswood Tome, special advisor to Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly, on Friday about the approaching deadline. Tome, who is in charge of the project, appeared surprised and blurted the MOU had been extended "another year."

Tome did not elaborate on whether the extension applied to the original MOU or if people should expect some changes.

When the group asked about the date of the decision, Tome replied, "Oh, last week."

The Shelly administration failed to tell the Bodaway people about its decision, but Tome said that is not his job. He added he would share the information with Bodaway/Gap Council Delegate Duane Tsinigine and Bodaway/Gap Chapter President Perry Slim.

The stakeholders spoke with Tsinigine and Slim before speaking with Tome last week about the project's status. Both had not heard of any plans from the president's office beyond the deadline.

The stakeholders also asked Tome, "If one southern Bodaway grazing permit holder rejects the project, would the project die?" Tome said, "Yes", and added that particular permit holder must be the user of the 420-acre land property, which Bodaway/Gap Chapter approved in a narrow 59-to- 52 vote for the Escalade project in October.

The stakeholders did not have time to visit the Navajo Land Department to find out if Tome's statement matched the nation's grazing permit regulations.

Plus, the focus of the visit by stakeholders to was to find out how President Shelly planned to address the following paragraph in the MOU. "In the event the intended Master Agreement is not executed and delivered on mutually acceptable terms by the Parties by JULY 1, 2013, then the proposed relationship between the Nation and the Confluence Partners describe and contemplated by this MOU shall terminate without further actionů"

The Confluence Partners include Scottsdale consultant R. Lamar Whitmer, former Apache Superior Court Judge Michael Nelson, Eunice L.Tso, ETD Inc.'s project manager and environmental specialist and State Rep. Albert Hale.

Hale did not return a call seeking a comment.

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