A public meeting, previously scheduled on Tuesday for discussion of a proposed mega-tourist resort in Western Navajo, is cancelled.
The Navajo Nation Council’s Resources and Development committee had planned to come to Bodaway/Gap Chapter to discuss the proposed Grand Canyon Escalade Bill, a legislation filed in late August and is moving toward the full council. Legislative officials said Friday a lack of a quorum squelched the meeting.
The notification was posted Thursday evening at, navajonationcouncil.org/meetings.
The Escalade bill asks the Navajo Council to approve $65 million to pay for infrastructure. The bill wants the council to withdraw 420-acres of property overlooking the confluence of the Little and Colorado Rivers. Confluence Partners LLC, developers from Scottsdale, propose a key feature of a gondola that will transport tourists from the rim to the floor of the canyon.
Resources committee has had difficulty scheduling a public meeting for the Escalade bill.
Escalade Bill sponsor Benjamin Bennett and departing chapter president Slim initially asked Resources committee to have a meeting at Bodaway/Gap on Nov. 29. Bennett, who is vice-chairman of Resources committee, represents four chapters on the tribal council and include Fort Defiance and Sawmiil chapters.
News media reported Bennett pondered Dec. 6 but later told his colleagues Dec. 13 is best. Legislative officials discovered a letter inviting the committee to Bodaway had not been written and submitted to them.
Chapter officials wrote a memo Dec. 1, which officially invited the committee.
The memo states Bodaway elders want an Escalade update near their home.The Twin Arrows Navajo Casino and Resort near Leupp, where several Escalade public meetings occurred, is too far for elders to travel especially in poor weather, according to the memo.
The memo nearly delayed the Dec. 13 meeting last week,
Chapter officials had recommended Tuesday, Dec. 20 as an ideal time for the public meeting. The council’s legislative officials kept Dec. 13 because Resources committee had already made a commitment elsewhere, according to an e-mail.
The on again off again Resources meeting to discuss the Escalade bill started shortly after the Law and Order Committee rejected the proposal in October.
Bennett apparently slowed the bill to a crawl because a sponsor decides the pace of the bill, legislative officials said. Resources was the next panel to review the bill before it moves to Budget and Finance and Naa’bik’iyati’ committees.
Bennett, meanwhile, scheduled a lobby session for developers at Twin Arrows, where council members met. Bodaway/Gap Escalade supporters also had a rally for the Escalade at Gap.
The project is divisive at the chapter.
Escalade opponents believe the project will destroy tribal sacred space while proponents believe the development will bring jobs.
Opponents also believe the meeting at Bodaway/Gap was deliberately scheduled to incite them.
Opponents envisioned tight security, which occurred when the chapter passed the Escalade resolution on Oct. 3, 2012. The narrow vote, 59 yes to 52 nos, was counted under the watchful eyes of Arizona and Navajo police.
The group urged its supporters and stakeholders, who oppose the Escalade, to stay quiet and respectful at upcoming meetings.
“If Save the Confluence (members) yell…that is what they want,” said Renae Yellowhorse, Save the Confluence spokeswoman. “The land users and permit holders have to be silent…”