Since 1988, the Shiprock community has had plans to build the new Shiprock Multi-Purpose Youth Complex.
On Wednesday, it saw the very first signs of progress as tribal leaders gathered with architects, designers, and contractors to celebrate the center's official ground breaking.
With golden shovels in hand, President Ben Shelly cut a chunk of dirt from the site with fellow leaders after the site had been blessed.
Still, doubt flecked the tone of speeches as officials spoke about the bureaucracy that often slowed the plan. They hope to be done with the project in a little more than a year, but it was not clear how realistic that goal is.
"This has been a long, ongoing project," said Art Moore, Navajo Nation Design and Engineering Services planner.
Others made jokes about how the children who used to look forward to the center now are parents with children, and how the process moved at a snail's pace.
Paperwork, funding and communication all seemed to be common issues between the various agencies working on the project.
The Office of Youth Development, Navajo Housing Authority and the Shiprock Planning Committee all have been working on it since the plans began.
And, since then, the plans have changed. The $6.6 million facility no longer will include a running track, and it will be slightly smaller than originally hoped.
Still, it will be about 22,000 square-feet and will not lack
It will be about twice the size of the current Shiprock Youth Center, which has other uses.
The location will be in the center of town behind the Shiprock Post Office, which will be more convenient for many of the children.
"Safety is the number one thing for all these kids, and it would provide them comfort," said Robrenda Alsburg, a mentoring coordinator for the Office of Youth and Development at Tse' Bit' Ai Middle School in Shiprock.
The building also will be home to offices for the local branch of the Office of Youth and Development, which wants to implement career and college preparation programs at the center.
The interior is going to be designed with "bright, sunny" colors, according to Vanessa Garcia, who represented Dyron Murphy Architects, the Albuquerque-based firm working on the center.
"We tried to keep in mind the children," Garcia said.
Representatives from the surrounding school district, Central Consolidated School District, and the Navajo Nation Department of Diné Education, the Boys and Girls Club also attended the ground breaking.
Jenny Kane may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org; 564-4636. Follow her on Twitter @Jenny_Kane