In early March of 2019, Chairman Terry Rambler held the first Skate Park Project Committee meeting. This meeting was the start of a community effort for a better and healthier community for the San Carlos Apaches. At the beginning, this project focused on the local skateboarders in our community. Having a new skate park would push the youth to get involved in this growing community and as well highlight the local skateboarders. The Committee chose the BIA Building #86 (the former police, jail and court facility) location for the new Skate Park.
Chairman Rambler shed light on one of the reasons why he wanted to build a new Skate Park, “Throughout my years as Chairman, I would stop by the skate park on my way home. I would give the kids water to drink. The kids would always say, build us a new skate park! That has always been in the back of my mind and now we can do it. I want to thank the Council for designating a Skate Park and supporting our youth.”
The San Carlos Council appropriated funding for community improvement projects. Each of the Districts and the Chairman and Vice Chairman were given funding for these community improvement projects. The project funding was meant to renovate homes for community members, cleaning up trash in the community, assisting district enterprises, and other positive ways to make the community healthier. This allowed $287,120 of community improvements funds from the Chairman’s Office to be used for the Skate Park. The Skate Park Project Committee was also successful in obtaining a $50,000 grant from Freeport McMoRan, which will be used to purchase supplies and rent equipment.
To obtain input from the youth on this project, skaters from the San Carlos community were able to travel to different skate parks throughout Arizona with the Chairman and his staff. Skaters were able to visit skate parks in Ak-Chin Indian Community, Gila River Indian Community, and the Salt River Pima Maricopa Indian Community to get an idea of what is now a possibility. After meetings between committee members, departments and local skaters, a final design of an 8-10,000 square feet Skate Park was chosen. Architect Terry Valles designed the Skate Park to include obstacle courses like ledges, ramps, and even a bowl as part of the final design.
The Tribe’s Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Program and its customers will help construct the Skate Park. Anthony Henry, TANF Construction Manager, will directly oversee the TANF customers as they build the Skate Park. The Committee will be hiring the architect Terry Valles and a consultant with expertise in building skate parks to assist Anthony Henry and the TANF labor force. The labor force will gain very valuable work experience.
The 8-10,000 square feet Skate Park was not enough. Members of the committee created what is now not just a skate park but a plan for a new San Carlos Apache Sports Complex. The plan is to construct basketball courts, volleyball courts, a soccer field, a little league baseball field, picnic areas, a new larger fitness center, walking pathway, bike pathway, and a jungle gym for the community. This is an ongoing effort for a healthier lifestyle accessible to all community members.
The Coronavirus pandemic placed a hold on the normal process of projects. After the closure of state and tribal departments within the last year, safety and mitigation of COVID-19 has been the priority of keeping tribal members safe. Committee members have continued meetings through Zoom video conferencing and conference calls to discuss the project and its next steps.
The demolition of BIA Building No. 86 has begun and is nearing completion. This is the beginning to the many different phases yet to come. The demolition of the building now taking place will turn the course of history in light of a better future. The committee will continue its ongoing efforts to make this project a reality. In the near future, the committee will be working on local events for skateboarders and the youth. The Council has added the Skate Park event to the event schedule for the annual tribal sponsored Veterans Memorial Rodeo and Fair starting this November 2021.
Chairman Rambler stated, “I am appreciative of and thankful for the Council allocating this funding for this Skate Park project and supporting our youth. I am also thankful for my staff, the General Manager’s Office, Recreation Department, TANF Program, other departments, and local community members for being a part of our working group to make this happen. I am very excited for this new project to be completed and enjoyed by our youth.”