Legislators for the Navajo Nation have approved a measure that would see the Twin Arrows Navajo Casino Resort in Arizona spend approximately $10 million in order to construct a travel center complete with a convenience store, gas station and services for truck drivers.
As part of its 2016 Summer Council Session, the Navajo Nation Council okayed the proposed legislation by a 16 to 2 vote and intends to secure the cash for the development as a loan from the tribe’s Sihasin Fund, which was established in 2014 following a $554 million trust mismanagement settlement with the federal government.
“Navajo Nation Gaming Enterprise Chief Executive Officer Derrick Watchman outlined how the project would benefit the Navajo Nation’s gaming industry and overall economy by attracting more visitors to the gaming facility, job creation, tax revenues from retail sales and construction, business site lease fee revenues and by establishing utilities infrastructure necessary to support future development in the area,” read a statement from the Navajo Nation Council. “Watchman also noted that the Navajo Nation Gaming Enterprise has contributed over $2 million for development costs including electricity and water infrastructure, land costs and telecommunications.”
The legislation, which will now go before Russell Begaye, President for the Navajo Nation, for his approval, mandates that the Navajo Nation Gaming Enterprise would receive $2.5 million for planning and development purposes alongside an additional $3.5 million for the construction of the travel center. The operator would also have access to a further $4 million for overall construction purposes, which would have to be paid back to the tribe with interest.
The proposed legislation also includes a provision that would require any funds used for the development to be audited on an annual basis and reports submitted to the Navajo Nation Council, the Office Of The Controller and the Office Of The President and Vice-President.
If approved by Begaye, the Navajo Nation Council explained that construction on the new development alongside Interstate 40 just outside of the city of Flagstaff is expected to begin later in the summer with a tentative opening date in the spring of 2017.