Maricopa tightened the screws Tuesday on the long-anticipated Sonoran Desert Parkway, effectively cutting off access to the Ak-Chin Indian Community — casino complex and all. Accusations of trampling tribal sovereignty and flouting federal orders left municipal workers on the brink of facing off with Ak-Chin police.
But in an interview with InMaricopa this morning, Ak-Chin Chairman Robert Miguel said he’s now dealing the cards for a way forward — doing “anything possible” to reach a resolution.
“I want to move forward,” Miguel said. “We are willing to sit down and go over what we need to do to get this moving right to the casino.”
The project will move forward with or without Ak-Chin — the city made that clear Tuesday, as it holds permits from the Arizona Department of Transportation and Pinal County to conduct roadwork at the intersection facing Ak-Chin’s entertainment multiplex.
The U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs did not grant Maricopa the legal right-of-way necessary to connect traffic signals there, Miguel alleges. So, the city will swap the long-planned traffic signal for stop signs. Any future plans to connect traffic signals there and allow access to the casino compound “would be at the sole expense of the Ak-Chin Indian Community,” Mayor Nancy Smith said.
Miguel just last year raved about the Sonoran Desert Parkway, dubbing it “exciting” and a “great opportunity” to attract people to the Harrah’s Ak-Chin Casino. Today, he told InMaricopa he still wants that result — albeit with a different paper trail along the way.
“We want to solve this in the best way possible,” Miguel said. “It’s going to benefit all of us.”
Now well over a decade in the works, the Sonoran Desert Parkway ostensibly benefits the city whether or not the blacktop serves as a red carpet leading to the casino’s front door. City officials indicated to InMaricopa there aren’t active negotiations with Ak-Chin and it will forge ahead with its new plans to avoid siphoning off thousands of dollars daily as the project stalls.
The whole situation reeks of bad blood, but Miguel took a shot at the press in suggesting there’s more to the story than meets the eye.
“People want to hear about if it’s a fight or not — it sells papers.”