By Michael Squitieri and Saar Shemesh


Picture Tusayan, Arizona; a small hamlet just five miles from the south rim of the Grand Canyon, a few gas stations, some diners and the highway. Population: just nearly 600. In the coming months, a group of Italian investors, the Stilo Group, is looking to build on thousands of acres in this town, turning the beautiful desert landscape and precious land into hotels, stores and other services, including a dude ranch. But what is the human cost of this huge development deal? Where will the line be drawn between tasteful, sustainable development and obscenity.


Tusayan, Arizona: The Next Las Vegas?


This article quickly reminded us of the discussion Professor Aja initiated with his anecdote on sustainability in the rain forests of Costa Rica. We discussed how big business, in the pursuits of maximum short-term profits, would disregard the potential consequences of their developments in respect to sustainability, going on the path to, ironically, destroy the very land that produces revenue. This same lack of judgment is currently happening in Tusayan, Arizona, where the Stilo Group, wishes to add “resorts, homes, high-end stores…hotels and other attractions.”


The article also reminded us about the evils of corporations in government politics. As the article states, a town does not generally incorporate (establish itself as a governing county/city) without having a town population of at least 1,500, “but the Stilo Group, sitting on hundreds of acres of untapped land, saw incorporation as a way to negotiate with fewer decision makers,” and for such a large development deal, it is easiest to make decisions within a smaller group (although less democratic and highly exclusive).  The town does have some hope though; in a few short weeks, “votes will be tallied in a recall election for three of the five seats on the Town Council,” but sadly “[all of the seats] have been occupied by supporters of the developers.” The Stilo group is a perfect example of how corporations have only their best interest in mind, disregarding others rights and liberties at the chance for a nice profit.


The article states, “with just two water wells, no public works department and the thinnest of bureaucracies, the town is barely able to hand its present population, let alone a flood of newcomers” that will come with the new development. Even when not considering sustainability, the new development may also diminish the natural wonder of the Grand Canyon that many tourists wish to explore, further questioning the environmental outlook held by the Stilo Group.