Gap-Bodaway votes against Confluence development again

One man faces drug charges, one still at large

By Cindy Yurth
Tséyi' Bureau

CHINLE, July 26, 2012

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(Special to the Times - Donovan Quintero)

Sunlight and shadows from rolling clouds brighten the Navafjo sacred turquoise-colored Little Colorado River as it meets the Colorado River in Bodaway-Gap, Ariz. The Bodaway-Gap chapter recently passed legislation opposing the LCR/CR Confluence Project.

G ap-Bodaway Chapter on Sunday once again passed a resolution opposing the proposed Grand Canyon Escalade, a resort and tramway to be located at the confluence of the Colorado and Little Colorado rivers.

The chapter had passed a similar resolution last month, but chapter officials had refused to sign it, saying it contained too many personal attacks against members of Confluence Partners LLC, the company proposing the $120 million development.

"We tried to address those concerns with this current resolution," said Pauline Martin Sanchez, who presented the resolution Sunday.

Like the previous resolution, the new resolution asks Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly to "immediately cease and desist all proposed plans to carry out the Grand Canyon Escalade," but doesn't get into the character of the individual Confluence partners as the previous resolution did.

It does, however, state that stakeholders in the Confluence area ended talks with the Confluence Partners "after questionable background issues surfaced about the company's owner and political consultant R. Lamar Whitmer."

Whitmer was accused of skimming from the Maricopa County Sports Authority when he was its director in the 1990s, but was later acquitted.

The new resolution also requests that "any and all tourism development along the rim to rim of the Grand Canyon that borders the western Navajo Nation will require a chapter signed resolution and nine active grazing lease holders' and home site lease holders' approval and signatures."

Among the reasons listed in the resolution for opposing the development are a lack of benefit to the local populace, violation of a sensitive environment and sacred sites, and the inexperience of both Confluence Partners and the Navajo Nation in running a massive tourist resort.

It also cites "the lack of integrity, misrepresentations, misinformation, and the unethical means exhibited thus far by both parties (Confluence Partners and the Navajo Nation)" as the project was until recently shrouded in secrecy.

Chapter officials did not return an email requesting a vote tally by press time. They also did not respond to a question on whether or not they would sign the latest resolution.

Confluence partners have maintained the project would provide 2,000 jobs and pump millions of tourist dollars into the coffers of the Navajo Nation.

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