Landmark at risk: Developers prey on the Grand Canyon

Matthew L. Self, Review Editor in Chief

A developing story surrounding a list of tweets and recorded conversations has led many to fear that the Grand Canyon, one of the most treasured sites in the United States, is under siege by developers.

Stilo Development, an Italian construction company, has reportedly been involved in purchasing land around the Grand Canyon. According to a Twitter user by the username of @trippypapa, Stilo is buying up this land in order to potentially build housing, a spa, a convention center and a waterpark. Over 3.5 million square feet have already been purchased less than ten miles from the edge of the Grand Canyon according to this Twitter user, who stated that:

“If any of my tweets ever go viral I hope it’s this one. The Grand Canyon is facing a big problem right now. There’s no national news coverage about this and some very rich people want to keep it that way.”

The land under discussion is located in the heart of the Kaibab National Forest East of Tusayan. The Twitter user is afraid that the new housing and potential water park will compound water issues in the area, especially for the local tribes. The only water source in the area comes from an underground aquifer that feeds many important springs in the Grand Canyon.

The twitter user urged those following his tweets that they should contact the local government of Tusayan and beg them to keep the development company out. The effects of new housing in the area will, in short, cause added pollution to the area, a depleted water source for springs and an Indian tribe in the area and an eyesore next to a beautiful landmark.

The validity of such claims has not been verified, though a recorded conversation between Tusayan’s elected officials and Stilo members has been released. The recording was made on July 20 during a public hearing when a mic was left on after the meeting concluded. It was revealed that the city officials and the Stilo members were discussing topics ranging from keeping information out of the public eye to belittling a forest service supervisor.

The recordings darkest moment came when Tom DePaolo, a Stilo representative, suggested removing Kaibab National Forest Supervisor Heather Provencio through false accusations of sexual harassment. Though it sounds as if DePaolo was attempting humor, his next remarks were troubling:

“There is always the fallback of starting rumors of harassment and get her (Provencio) thrown out. That’s all you have to do is make an accusation and you’re guilty today.”

DePaolo has since apologized for what he said in a letter to the community. Yet, his comments may strike a nerve with many who are sensitive to such subjects in the wake of recent and current events involving celebrities and other famous individuals.

When asked about the situation, former student Mariah Smith, an engineering major, stated that she was troubled by the situation.

“To think that our national parks are being violated like this is insulting. I’d like to wait to see if this story is true or not but the implications are too great to ignore,” said Smith.

It is unclear if more information will come to light about this growing situation in Arizona, but if students are interested in this story they are encouraged to visit jack @trippypapa’s twitter account or listen to the recordings which have been made available on the Grand Canyon News’ website.

Edited by Abbie Barth, Dustin Wallace