It’s not easy to start a town.
But that’s just what Tusayan has been doing for the last two years. The Tusayan community had debated incorporation since the 1990s, but in 2010, voters finally took the plunge, overwhelmingly voting to take the future into their own hands.
The first elected council has done everything to further the campaign promises made in the incorporation campaign. Others who hope to join the council have been nothing more than road blocks to progress.
The last two years have been a rocky road, literally, as an ADOT highway improvement project remains unfinished awaiting warmer weather.
Some residents have moved on to other towns in the two years since Tusayan incorporated. No new housing exists. Year-round jobs are still hard to come by, and most residents are still defined by who they work for. Kids have grown two years older. Some have graduated and moved on.
It may seem to many like nothing has changed, but that perspective is wrong.
These last two years have been tough, tedious work for those who have chosen to serve the town in its infant phase. The Western Times commends the 15 people who have served on the town council or planning and zoning commission since the town’s beginning.
Those individuals have stepped up and volunteered their time and effort to getting a town off the ground, without pay. They’ve learned that making a town go is tough, unheralded work. They’ve been subject to criticism, and they should be, but some of it has gone far overboard.
Don’t believe the negativity. Incorporation opponents lead by recall candidate Clarinda Vail insisted Tusayan would go broke if it incorporated. Not true. Tusayan had over a $1 million surplus in its first year, one of very few communities in the entire state with a surplus. Tusayan is poised for a very bright future.
We believe the recall elections that will occur in March are a waste of taxpayer money. The next Tusayan Town Council elections occur in August, less than six months away. If voters have a problem with their elected officials, they have an opportunity to elect new people then. That’s how democracy works.
Mayor Greg Bryan and Vice Mayor Al Montoya were elected to the council with healthy majorities. They campaigned on bringing new affordable housing opportunities to Tusayan, and that’s exactly what they’ve done.
Bryan and Montoya served as the town’s voice at the table when Stilo brought its plan forward. They poured themselves into every detail of a complex plan, and fought hard at the table for nine months to make sure residents got a good deal.
The Stilo plan is a good deal for Tusayan. Because of Bryan and Montoya, the town gets 40 acres of land free from the developer for affordable housing, an estimated $10 million value. They paved the way for Stilo to pay for roads, sewer and infrastructure costs that will help make housing affordable at the Kotzin and Ten-X Ranch properties.
Bryan and Montoya were instrumental in resurrecting a temporary housing plan that Coconino County rejected in 2009 as part of the deal that will allow for housing immediately – if voters approve the project in May – until infrastructure is brought to Kotzin and Ten-X. Commercial development in the plan is sensible and promotes a year-round economy.
In addition, Mr. Montoya encouraged Stilo to negotiate a historic detail with the Grand Canyon School, which could be worth millions to students who eventually will grow up and learn in a new facility in Tusayan. He also was instrumental in ensuring that the plans included areas reserved for churches and other community services.
It’s easy to criticize, and certainly their opponents, Robbie Evans and Clarinda Vail, have. But voters must decide who is best for the town in the ill-advised but important recall election.
While Bryan and Montoya were instrumental in securing the Stilo deal for the town Evans and Vail’s record on housing is mixed at best.
Evans recently told the Arizona Daily Sun that housing for Tusayan residents is “out of reach,” and asked “who’s going to give them [Tusayan residents] a loan?” Evans might have had an opportunity to voice his concerns and make some recommendations as a member of Tusayan’s Housing Committee, except that he didn’t bother to show up to the committee meetings.
Vail, on the other hand, had her lawyers threaten legal action against Stilo for showing residents two model homes at Camper Village.
This is hypocritical at best, as Mr. Evans and his running mate Mrs. Vail have said “no one will be able to afford a home” yet at the same time they use a cheap legal tactic to prevent residents from understanding that claim is patently false.
This is not the kind of leadership Tusayan needs. We hope future political opponents in Tusayan will choose against the wasteful recall process and instead step up and lead.
The choice is simple: If you want more of the same – landowners in charge of where you live and how much you pay in rent, support Vail and Evans. If you want independent housing, parks, better schools, churches, clinics and other amenities, support Bryan and Montoya.
We support Mayor Greg Bryan and Vice Mayor Al Montoya in the recall election for their leadership, vision, and commitment to the community.