The Escalade primary bill sponsor yanked the bill off the agenda because one of his supporters is not available.
Navajo legislative officials said Ben Bennett, the bill’s sponsor, and councilman, pulled Grand Canyon Escalade legislation off Naab’bik’yati’s Thursday agenda.
Naa’bik’yati was prepared to review the bill, which seeks $65 million to jump-start a proposed tourist destination site at Grand Canyon eastern rim, legislative officials said.
Critics of the Escalade bill had questioned how long the legislation would stay on the Naa’bik’yati’ agenda. After all, Bennett has delayed or pulled the bill last-minute since October, when the first committee, Law and Order, turned it down.
The council’s Budget and Finance Committee voted no in February. While Bennett slowed the Escalade bill, his opponents and activist group Save the Confluence approached Navajo chapters to help their cause.
Nearly a quarter of 110 chapters passed resolutions asking the council to vote against the Escalade bill.
The result of Naa’bik’yati’s vote could have shown where each delegate stands on the controversial legislation. The committee consists of the full council and debates bills before they reach the council agenda.
The bill proposes Navajo lawmakers approve a contract to perch a multimillion mega-tourist site at the confluence of the Little and Colorado Rivers in western Navajo Nation. Confluence Partners LLC, developers from Scottsdale, want to install a gondola that transports visitors from the rim to the floor Grand Canyon.
Partners include Scottsdale political consultant Lamar Whitmer and former Arizona lawmaker and Navajo President Albert Hale.
Escalade opponents also believe the project is pricey and others say the Partners are asking the council to violate tribal development law. The bill wants the nation to pay $65 million for the project’s infrastructure and withdraw 420-acres without the consent of grazing permit holders.
The land, the developers propose, will house a restaurant, hotel, a visitor center, a sewer/waste treatment plant and parking lot.