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Questions remain for themed park
District Three Supervisor Matt Ryan briefs Rotarians

District Three Supervisor Matt Ryan talks theme park issues with members of the Williams Rotary Club during their regular meeting at Max and Thelma’s Restaurant Feb. 7.

District Three Supervisor Matt Ryan talks theme park issues with members of the Williams Rotary Club during their regular meeting at Max and Thelma’s Restaurant Feb. 7.

Matt Ryan, District Three Supervisor with the Coconino County Board of Supervisors, visited Williams Rotarians during their regularly scheduled meeting Feb. 7. Ryan briefed the audience on the board's current activities during the meeting, including where the county stood in regards to the much-discussed themed park planned for the Williams area. Themed park officials from Grand Canyon Northland Amusements and Entertainment (GCNAE) made a presentation to the county board of supervisors in Flagstaff Jan. 8. Though only a workshop, supervisors were given their first solid glimpse into the planned 300-acre park during the meeting. A second workshop is planned between the two entities, though no date for the meeting has been set.

"There's a limited amount I can talk about," Ryan told Rotarians during the Feb. 7 meeting at Max and Thelma's Restaurant. "Right now we're going through a legal review associated with the theme park. There are questions that we have to answer. One of the primary questions that has always been out there is, if this is implemented, it entails who will be responsible. Our concern would be, if the counties are held responsible, that's really you. Should the county taxpayers be exposed with this, we need to assure that there is a barrier between the theme park, the pursuit of the private pubic combination, and the taxpayers. We're going through a review associated with that, same thing for board members, that they would be covered."

As officials with GCNAE work to resolve those issues with the board of supervisors, other questions remain unresolved, Ryan said.

"We have not had an independent feasibility analysis. That's a piece that we suggested they need to go and do. It can't be implemented by them. We need something independent that would give us a better analysis of what they're proposing and if it makes sense," Ryan said. "The other piece that we're wrestling with is how do we coordinate with the two other jurisdictions, the city of Williams and the city of Phoenix? It's kind of cumbersome, because it's very difficult for us to talk to each other."

Officials with GCNAE said they are expecting a total capital investment of $174,297,000 for the Williams park alone. Estimated total park revenue after five years, they projected, would be $511,971,070, with bond revenue totaling $46,077,396. Total capital investment for both parks would cost $374,006,000.

Besides information on the proposed themed park, Ryan also spoke about other issues currently affecting Coconino County, such as land planning concerns, during the Williams Rotary Club meeting.

Officials with GCNAE announced a partnership with Republic Urban Properties during the Jan. 8 meeting with county board of supervisors. Republic officials, according to GCNAE representatives, hopes to expand their business into Arizona by partnering with GCNAE in the themed park endeavor. Besides the Williams park, called Grand Canyon Country, a second GCNAE park is also planned for the Phoenix area.

"In Valle they want commercial activity and they're trying to promote that idea, that's how that one's set up. In the Oak Creek Canyon area plan, they don't want to see much commercial activity. They have an overlay of development criteria for the Oak Creek area, so it's specific to the certain areas," Ryan said of land planning. "The other piece of it is we try to drive commercial into the incorporated areas, rather than out in the unincorporated areas. We feel that cities are more appropriately set up to handle the infrastructure to have what's needed for the industries, so it works well for incorporated communities in that planning method."

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