Local News

Tusayan Doesn’t Call The Shots: Stilo Gets the Upper Hand In Forest Service Study

December 23, 2014

Once again Stilo gets the gold mine while the residents of Tusayan get the shaft. On December 22nd the Town Council signed a Forest Service Cost Recovery Agreement that enables Stilo’s controversial development at the doorstep to the Grand Canyon which would add three million square feet of commercial space and thousands of new homes.

This agreement basically lays out a budget and a timetable to decide if Stilo gets access to Forest Service land so its environmentally damaging development can move forward. Here is a link.

Stilo did manage to get an upper hand in the process. First off it will be paying whoever is chosen as the consultant to oversee the studies necessary for the process.

And while the general public won’t be able to view the initial negotiations, Stilo does have that privilege. Stilo has a seat at the negotiating table that the public does not. If there are meeting between Stilo, the Town, and the Forest Service there is no obligation to inform the public unless three or more Town Council members are in attendance.

Councilman Bill Fitzgerald feels there should be far more transparency and he is not happy with the arrangement. He said, “It appears Stilo is running the show.” Fitzgerald said the Town of Tusayan should be in charge by informing Stilo of what’s going on instead of Stilo telling the town what it wants.

Town Manager Will Wright replied, “I see it more as a partnership. From the very beginning that I’ve come here, it seems like it’s been a partnership.”

With the exception of Fitzgerald, the Mayor and Council have pretty much given Stilo everything it demands. So why would Wright or anyone else perceive that the Town calls the shots? Wright is not to blame. The Mayor and three of the four Town Council members have basically given so much power to the Italian developer they might as well name the Town “Stiloville.”

Vice Mayor Craig Sanderson sees the effort as a joint venture, “It’s clearly a partnership. It’s the town parcels. It’s the town to provide affordable housing. That’s our agenda. Stilo of course has a profitability agenda. Therefore it’s a joint venture.”

Stilo also has the upper hand in terms of legal representation.

As we reported in October Squire, Sanders LLC was hired in May to look after the Town’s interest in environmental studies related to the application process with the Forest Service.

It turns out the same firm represented Stilo when it donated funds to the Grand Canyon School District to mitigate the impact the Stilo development would have on local schools. The law firm representing Stilo at the time was indeed Squire, Sanders. Here is a link to the agreement with the district.


Here is a link to the minutes in which Squires, Sanders LLC was hired. http://tusayan-az.gov/v1wp812/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/Council-Meeting-Minutes-2014-05-21.pdf

As the minutes of the meeting reflected, Councilman Fitzgerald asked for a formal presentation from Squire, Sanders before they were retained. That didn’t happen. If it did, the conflict may have been discovered.

At the December 22 meeting, no one (with the exception of Bill Fitzgerald) expressed concern about the conflict of interest.