Supplemental funding of $400k sought for project

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FARMINGTON — Navajo Nation lawmakers are considering a measure that would fund the cleanup of a business site on U.S. Highway 64 in Shiprock.

The bill requests $400,000 in supplemental funding from the Unreserved Undesignated Fund Balance for property cleanup and demolition of existing structures as part of the Bond and Bond Business Site Redevelopment Project.

The 2.59 acres is located west of the north U.S. Highway 491 and U.S. Highway 64 intersection.

An October 2017 letter from the tribe's former Division of Economic Development Director Crystal J. Deschinny to Delegate Dwight Witherspoon, who is sponsoring the bill, described the site as a "prime location" for economic development.

Her letter, which is attached to the bill, states the property needs asbestos abatement, cleanup and redevelopment.

The supplemental funding would be used to conduct those activities, then have the land available for commercial development, according to the bill.

Shiprock Chapter President Duane "Chili" Yazzie said various businesses, including a supermarket, a restaurant and a gas station, have operated on the site throughout the years.

He added the chapter continues to work with the Bureau of Indian Affairs to secure 35 acres adjacent to the site for economic development projects geared toward tourism.

"That is good. It is consistent with our overall plan," Yazzie said about the legislation.

As of Friday, the bill had received "do pass" recommendations from the Resources and Development and Budget and Finance committees.

It continues to the Naa'bik'íyáti' Committee and to the Navajo Nation Council, where final authority rests.

The measure is one of four requests for supplemental funding totaling $4.4 million from the UUFB for future development projects at former business sites on the reservation.

Approximately $2.2 million is proposed for the former Jim's business site, and $400,000 is requested for the former Round Rock Trading Post, both located in Round Rock, Arizona.

About $1.4 million is requested for the site of the former Chee's Southwest Store in Piñon, Arizona. Each amount would be used for structural demolition and site cleanup.

Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636 or by email at nsmith@daily-times.com.

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