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Honga and Vaughn: Council Must Resolve Skywalk Legal Issues, Improve Facilities

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Hualapai Tribal Council members Waylon Honga and Charles Vaughn give their side of the story on the legal controversy surrounding the tribe's Grand Canyon Skywalk, the glass-bottom observation deck suspending 4,000 feet above the canyon’s floor and the Colorado River, in an op-ed in The Arizona Republic.

The Skywalk's operator David Jin put forward the $30 million to construct the tourist attraction, which opened in 2007 and now draws about 300,000 visitors a year, according to the Associated Press. Jin and the tribe signed an agreement that they would split revenues for 25 years in exchange for Jin’s $30 million investment.

Jin received part of his dues in 2007, although the Hualapai Tribal Nation failed to provide accounting to back up the payment, according to the AP. He has received nothing since then. But the Hualapai Tribal Council claims Jin has not upheld his part of the agreement.

"The visitors center that Jin agreed to build is an empty shell - an uninspiring building that sits idle with exposed wiring hanging from the ceilings and holes in the floor," Honga and Vaughn write in The Arizona Republic. "There are portable toilets - not functional bathrooms, as Jin promised - for the thousands of tourists who pay to visit. Worse yet, there is no electricity, water or sewer to the attraction. We believe it's an appalling breach of the contract."

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Honga and Vaughn explain the council may decide to exercise its eminent domain rights. "...[T]he tribe is ready and more than willing to pay Jin and his investors fair market value for their financial commitment," the op-ed states.

Once the legal situation is resolved, the tribe can bring the Skywalk to its full potential. "...[I]t will allow the tribe to complete the Skywalk Visitors Center and provide a world-class facility that tourists from around the globe deserve."