'Louise Yellowman Park' opens to public in Tuba City

Park includes skating area, BMX, walking and family riding trails for all

Getting into the swing of spring - A family enjoys the swings together at the newly christened Louise Yellowman County Park in Tuba City. The park officially opened to the public May 10 after seven years of planning (Photo by Rosanda Suetopka Thayer/NHO).

Getting into the swing of spring - A family enjoys the swings together at the newly christened Louise Yellowman County Park in Tuba City. The park officially opened to the public May 10 after seven years of planning (Photo by Rosanda Suetopka Thayer/NHO).

TUBA CITY, Ariz. - What started in 2003 as a dream of Tuba City and Moencopi Hopi students - to have a fully equipped skate and BMX park complete with deep sub-rails and highly curved extensions to practice on, making it possible to win city, state and national skate competitions - became a reality May 10.

The Louise Yellowman County Park was officially opened amid hundreds of well-wishers, including the entire Coconino County Supervisory Board and Hopi and Navajo Nation officials. There were special student presentations by Tuba City Boarding School and Moencopi Day School ending with a skateboarding exhibition by GrindLine Skateparks featuring Dave Palmer and Jimmy the Greek. Live music was provided for the event by "No Name Street Band," led by local Hopi musician, Blair Quamahongnewa.

Deb Hill, one of the county board members stated, "To me, this park for Tuba City is the best project that the county has done. For someone so very special like Louise, ... to have such vision for her own community is so inspiring. She went from herding sheep to getting a masters [degree] in education, then came back home to the reservation to help her community. She taught school, then decided to run for public office. I am honored to know her and to work alongside her."

Hopi Tribal Chairman Ben Nuvamsa could not attend the park christening event, so Leroy Sumatskuku of Moencopi Village spoke on his behalf.

Sumatskuku thanked Yellowman for her vision, her dedication and for her unrelenting quest to find funding necessary to complete the park for Tuba City and Moencopi.

"It's an honor to speak for Hopi Chairman Ben Nuvamsa today. I want to publicly acknowledge Mrs. Yellowman for being such a powerful Native model for progress."

He added, "I am pleased to be at this special inauguration, which has brought many of our civic leaders together for the common good. This park project is a prime example of our unified community partnership. Mrs. Yellowman has always been an advocate for a stronger reservation community. She is always looking to improve our Hopi and Navajo communities ... The Hopi Tribe plans to keep faith with Mrs. Yellowman. Her partnership, her loyalty to our local worldwide web, shows that we are all connected."

Ron Brown, Navajo Nation Police Department Community Relations Officer spoke specifically to the youth at the park opening event. "I am so honored to be here today with my home community members to celebrate this beautiful new park. This is our park - this is your park, it's part of you. We planted the seed, but now it's your responsiblity to take care of it. It took seven years from the planning stages to the actual construction. But now it's done and it is something we can all enjoy and be proud of."

Cordell Talker, age 18, drove down from Shonto to be at the Tuba City opening on May 10 with some of his friends. Talker was practicing some of his BMX moves in the cement pit while a number of young students looked on.

Talker observed, "Its something new and different for our reservation. It has more subrails and extensions than the Kayenta skate park and is what we really need here if we are going to compete ... in metro area competitions. It's really great to have this new park in Tuba City, and I am sure it helps for our parents to know that we are getting some wholesome recreation time in."

In 2003, the Coconino County Parks and Recreation received 1,778 questionnaires from the Tuba City area, which expressed design dreams for a skate-BMX park facility.

The preliminary plan was presented to the Tuba City and Moencopi communities for public review in April of 2004.

Additional comments were collected from parents and community members of both communities and the Parks and Recreation staff members. The Board of Supervisors then developed the second phase of the park design.

A final design and construction team was selected in November 2004 to complete the final design work and construction proposal.

The physical features of the new county park include a state-of-the-art skate park, a BMX area, walking paths, playground equipment, native landscaping, restrooms, ramadas and benches in earth toned colors and a large covered group pavilion structure for live bands or theatrical presentations.

The mission of the new Louise Yellowman County Park is, "to be the center of culture and activity, providing for the wellness and enjoyment of a diverse community."

Land acquisition costs were $579,000 with funding for the actual construction breaking down to three major funding sources: Coconino Parks and Open Space Sales Tax, $1,423,755; Babbitt Brothers Trading Company's donation of $100,000; and the Heritage Fund Grant at $782,000.

Development Director Kelly Burkhart is looking to secure additional funding for the park, with a projected goal of $500,000. For more information or to contribute to the Louise Yellowman Park fund, contact Burkhart at (928) 679-8020.

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