Talks continuing on El Rio future for Grand Canyon University campus

Proposal for new university campus is still on table
2013-05-15T00:00:00Z 2013-05-15T10:22:56Z Talks continuing on El Rio future for Grand Canyon University campusDarren DaRonco Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
May 15, 2013 12:00 am  • 

The Tucson City Council voted 5-2 after a closed-door session to continue discussions with Grand Canyon University over building a new campus on El Rio Golf Course.

Last week, it was revealed the city has been talking with the for-profit university for weeks without any public scrutiny.

With residents' suspicions mounting as to why the city has been negotiating in the dark, Councilwoman Regina Romero directed City Manager Richard Miranda to publicly share as many details as possible when they become available so residents can be assured the city is acting in their best interests.

"We are not wheeling and dealing behind closed doors," Romero said. "Today's executive session was just a discussion ... and it (was) not a conversation about sale or lease. It (was) a conversation about the possibility of Grand Canyon University and the start of negotiations."

That didn't mollify some west-side residents. They said the city hasn't been honest with them from the start, and there's no reason to believe it will be in the future.

"Transparency is really critical," said Cecilia Cruz, a member of the El Rio Coalition II, a collection of west-side neighbors united in opposition to the Grand Canyon University plan.

Cruz said Romero and city officials have kept residents out of the loop despite holding neighborhood meetings specifically about the future of El Rio Golf Course in just the past few weeks.

At "the meetings (Romero) purports were held to inform neighbors, Grand Canyon University was never mentioned," Cruz said.

Romero disputed those claims and said she told neighbors, golfers and many others about Grand Canyon building on El Rio.

"From the beginning, I told people this was a possibility," Romero said. "It was clear as day that I told many people."

Regardless of who was told what, residents want to make it clear they oppose the plan.

Scott Egan, also a member of the El Rio Coalition II, said most west-side residents want to keep El Rio as a green space.

"We don't need concrete and steel," Egan said. "We don't care if it's a golf course or a park. … We want to preserve urban green space."

Contact reporter Darren DaRonco at 573-4243 or

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