California, February 10, 2004 - In a presentation at the Banning
city council meeting, tribal representatives from the Morongo
Band of Mission Indians announced their commitment to donate $250,000
to help the city construct a new skate park for area youth.
symbolic giant check for the quarter-million-dollar donation was
presented by Morongo tribal chairman Maurice Lyons.
a very exciting moment," said Lyons. "It's about kids
and caring. We all share the need to create a better quality of
life for our kids and to provide them with opportunities for healthy
development. Our contribution symbolizes our belief that the futures
of our communities and our children are woven together. We are very
proud to be able to make this donation and to be a positive participant."
a recent editorial, the city's local newspaper, The Record Gazette,
noted that, "sadly, as it became clear that the costs to build
a decent skate park, well into the six figures
be beyond the reach of the Banning community, the idea remained
but hopes for such a project had faded."
tribe's gift now represents the largest donation received by the
city to date and puts organizers at more than the halfway mark of
their $500,000 goal.
gift will assist the city in tapping into one of the fastest-growing
youth recreational sports in the country.
to Heidi Lemmon, founder of the Skate Park Association of the United
States of America (SPAUSA), skate parks are the number one choice
of teenagers when polled by Parks & Recreation departments.
Industry websites report that there are approximately 7-10 million
skateboarders with an estimated 1,000 skate parks in the country
today and over 100,000 skateboard decks are being manufactured each
have learned what a fast-growing sport skateboarding has become.
Skate parks have been built in Moreno Valley, Corona, Riverside,
Desert Hot Springs, Palm Springs and Yucaipa," said Lyons.
"But there has been none in the Pass Area so it makes sense
for one to be built for our community's kids."
the SPAUSA website, Lemmon noted that "in 1996 we had a list
of over two hundred U.S. skate parks. Parks are being built so fast
that we are having a difficult time tracking them. Churches, communities,
and schools throughout the nation are adding to their youth programs."
in 1999 a group of local skateboarders, their friends and family,
together with a local pastor, filled the Banning City Council chambers
to express their belief in the need for a skate park," recalled
Banning community services manager Chris Millen. "Since then,
Banning city leaders and staff have been exploring the feasibility
of a skate park."
said the park's size is currently envisioned at approximately 10,000
square feet that he says is a "modest-sized" property.
final plan for the park was selected by the Park
& Recreation Committee in October of last year. A group called
"It's All About The Kids" was formed by Mayor Art Welch,
City Council member Barbara Hanna, business leaders Jim Smith and
Jay Taylor to raise the money needed to build the new facility.
member Hanna said, that with the news of the Morongo gift, she anticipates
a groundbreaking to begin in six months.
tribe's gift is a godsend," said Hanna. "It is a dramatic
and generous step forward and brings us significantly closer to
making the park a reality. Everyone connected with this undertaking
was thrilled with the news."
Morongo tribe understands the difficulties that local governments
face today in providing services to their communities. Like many
of the families we are trying to help, our struggles are not over,"
said Morongo tribal council member Anne Hutton. "But we are
fortunate in that we can make a contribution to those in our community.
We believe that all of our outreach comes down to giving from our
family to other families and we try to demonstrate this through
personal commitment, volunteering, and financial assistance."
According to Hutton, the tribe gives to hundreds of community groups
and non-profit charitable organizations every year. In the past
that has included the Banning Unified School District, Cabazon Elementary
School, Sun Lakes Charities, Shelter From The Storm for Battered
Women, Walter's Children's Charity Classic, Child Help USA, Indian
Child & Family Services, Nicolet Middle School, the San Gorgonio
Memorial Hospital, the Riverside Sheriff Association Relief Fund,
and Banning High School.