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Environmental terrorist strikes
Sedona “Wye” project

by Ivan Finley

Ivan Finley Sedona Former MayorAccording to a police report, on July 3 or 4, a person or persons unknown did damage to heavy equipment parked on the worksite of the Hyatt project at the “Wye.” It is almost a certainty that this vandalism is associated with the removal of trees from the property. Only a day or two earlier an unnamed elderly man had a confrontation on the site with workers over the removal of trees.

Among the damaged equipment were rock trenchers, rock crushers, bulldozers, backhoes and other large items. All were extensively damaged by drilled holes in hydraulic lines, cut electrical lines in and near the engines, and very large and expensive tires were slashed. According to Dana Schmidt, of the Sedona Police Department, whoever did this, spent considerable time on the site and had to have knowledge of how to cause the most damage to this equipment. There are four different contractors working on the site.

In talking with the applicant for this project, he felt that the damage was in the thousands of dollars, but did not have a figure yet. He said this action would not stop this project, but would increase the cost and slow it down from completion.

This applicant has been working with the city of Sedona for several years and has an approved plan, including a developmental agreement, which includes current impact fees. He has bent over backwards to work within the city guidelines. They have removed and boxed all the trees that the city wanted. Like all boxed native trees, some of them have since died.

According to the landscape plans, the completed project will have over 100 more trees than were removed. Roger Eastman, of the city’s Community Planning Department, has stated that the plans for the “Wye” area, including the roadway by the Post Office, is one of the finest plans the city has approved, and after it is finished it will be beautiful.

Terrorism - violent acts meant to intimidate or coerce, especially for political reasons. Does it work?

In November, the watchdog group for Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility issued a report that “beatings, bombings, shots fired, property vandalized, death threats and other incidents against federal resource employees, largely in the West, have been steadily increasing since 1995.” In 1998, there were almost 100 incidents in which personnel or buildings of the U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, and other agencies were targets of physical attack, destruction or a direct threat of violence.

THE PERSON OR PERSONS THAT DAMAGED THIS EQUIPMENT COULD DIRECT IT AT A HUMAN BEING NEXT. This kind of incident is not new in Sedona. A few years back we had a very similar incident at a project on Soldier Pass Road. Before that, there was a fire started in a sewer contractor’s equipment on 89A. Let’s hope that this is the end of this violence and this project can be finalized.

Almost every bit of damage done up at this construction site was outlined in a book called The Monkey Wrench Gang (basically, a how-to booklet on environmental vandalism). I sure hope we don’t have anyone in town named “Hayduke.”

Economically, the Hyatt project will have a very positive effect on income to the city. Remember, we operate on sales taxes only - no property taxes come to the city, and with the economic slowdown that is happening in the U.S., we need to do everything possible to protect our future income.

The newly seated City Council absolutely must set the tone and, with their leadership, bring this community together. This kind of action cannot be tolerated. We should demand strong words from all of them against anyone taking the law into their own hands.

The three newly-elected city council persons all seemed to run for the office on the basis of more communications, open meetings, and public business conducted in front of the public. Sounds great.

One of the first meetings attended by the Honorable Mayor Dick Ellis, was a meeting apparently called by Yavapai County Supervisor Arlo Davis regarding highway 179. When I called to ask why the Mayor attended a meeting that was closed to the public, it was stated that Mr. Davis requested it closed. Another person said that the Arizona Department of Transportation wanted it closed!!!

I was also told that no decisions were made at that meeting. But it doesn’t make any difference - public business that affects all of us was discussed.

One of the other city council persons attending this meeting was Steve Nahmanson. Do you remember, a year or so ago when he tried to crash an ADOT meeting in Phoenix and he was told it was closed and a local paper printed his picture trying to go through the closed door. Nahmanson still wants the state to turn back Highway 179 to the city. A study two years ago determined that this in no way was economically feasible. Matt Ryan, Coconino County Supervisor  representing Sedona said they didn’t want Hwy 179 back and Arlo Davis also said Yavapai County doesn’t want it.

They said they did not have a choice but to attend this closed meeting.

I SAY THEY DID, THEY COULD HAVE STAYED HOME, but they wanted to go to see if they could influence ADOT further toward their viewpoint.

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