A Scottsdale developer on Monday unveiled new proposed plans that include a restaurant and an amphitheater on the floor of the Grand Canyon, which tourists would access by riding a gondola tram down to the river.
Fulcrum Group LLC, aka Confluence Partners, allowed four visitors into a meeting before Navajo Nation officials arrived at the Fulcrum office, 7343 E. Camelback Road, in Scottsdale. The meeting, billed as the first in a series to draw up a contract between the Navajo Nation and Fulcrum Group, proposes to build a resort called Grand Canyon Escalade at Grand Canyon East in western Navajo.
The partners include Ivan Gamble, Michael Nelson, Arizona lawmaker Albert Hale and business consultant Lamar Whitmer. Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly signed a memorandum of understanding with the partners for a feasibility study at the Confluence in February.
Shelly’s staff has repeatedly reneged on promises to release the MOU to stakeholders. Most recently, staff promised it would be e-mailed March 19. That self-imposed deadline came and went with no documents delivered.
When Confluence stakeholders arrived at the office Monday, Nelson told them the meeting “was private” because the two parties planned to “negotiate.” He walked into the office and locked the door.
Whitmer spoke with several stakeholders before Hale, later, invited the group in along with Bodaway Chapter Manager Dorothy Lee, to view renderings.
Nelson asked the visitors not to take pictures of the rendering, which proposes, in addition to the restaurant and amphitheater, a hotel and a second restaurant on the rim, a museum/art center, two large parking lots and housing for workers.
Tyrone Tsosie, who grew up at the Confluence, told developers his family opposes to development. Tsosie said families of his generation envision returning to land and have not done so because of varied reasons.
They include the Bennett Freeze, which banned development in the area until 2009. In addition, the Great Recession hindered efforts by families to pay for pricey home site leases and construction supplies, he said.
“My family, we say no,” Tsosie told Fulcrum Group.
Fulcrum Group previously proposed a land withdrawal of 3,130 acres for an airport, a tram and other tourist amenities at the Confluence.
The new plan eliminated the airport, Whitmer said.
The business proposes a paved road that would start at Hidden Springs off Highway 89. The road would dart west past Twin Hills, the two Red Mesas, Pillow Hill and to the Confluence.
Fulcrum Group believes federal funds or the Bennett Freeze trust fund could pay for tthe 27-mile road improvement project. Water would be piped in from Tuba City.
When Navajo Nation officials arrived, the partners moved behind closed doors. The visitors left, several disappointed because they were not allowed to witness the negotiations.