Task force endorses tribe’s choice of site

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 4, 2002

The Mattanock Town Joint Task Force will be recommending to the Suffolk City Council that the Nansemond Indian Tribe’s proposed cultural center be located at Lone Star Lakes.

The 16 task force members who visited two proposed sites – Lone Star in Chuckatuck and the former Naval Transmitter Station on Sleepy Hole Road -on Thursday were unanimous in their recommendation.

Last winter, the tribe approached City Council with a proposal to build Mattanock Town, a $5.3 million cultural arts center that would include a replica of an authentic Indian village. The tribe asked the city to turn over approximately 100 acres of property on Cedar Creek to be used for the project.

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Two months ago, council appointed the task force to further study the proposal, including looking at several possible alternate sites for the village.

Assistant City Manager Steve Herbert, who co-chairs the task force with Nansemond Chief Barry Bass, initially believed that pros and cons of each site put them on equal footing.

‘But there was no contest today,&uot; said Herbert, after seeing both sites &uot;Driver is a great asset for the city but in terms of this project, to my mind, there is only one location.

&uot;Lone Star best fits the objectives (set by council).

&uot;We’ll have to deal with the marina. That’s a reality,&uot; he said. &uot;We’ll have to reconfigure some things to accommodate the Indian village and the marina.&uot;

Bass said he believes the marina and tribe’s cultural center can easily co-exist – even complement one another. &uot;We could do that without a problem,&uot; he said.

Herbert is referring to a 250-slip marina that the city eventually plans to build on the Nansemond River at Lone Star.

Task force members say they hope to meet with an archeologist and review tourism feasibility study when the group meets later this month.

Later this fall, the task force is expected to report its recommendations to the City Council. Council will make the final decision on whether to proceed with plans for Mattanock at Lone Star.

If the council endorses the plan for Mattanock Town, the tribe can move ahead with its plans to acquire grants that tribal representatives believe would fund most of the project.

Bass estimated it would take six months to a year to establish a foundation to handle fund-raising efforts and begin applying for the grants.

&uot;We have been focusing on getting it ready for 2007 so Suffolk will have it as a tourist draw for Jamestown 2007,&uot; said Bass, referring to the Jamestown’s upcoming 400th anniversary festivities. &uot;That’s why we are so anxious to get started.&uot;

Mattanock Town’s primary mission will be education, he said.

&uot;We want to educate the public, as well as our own people, on what our people had to go through,&uot; Bass said. &uot;History books would make you believe the Nansemonds were here until Jamestown came along, …and then simply disappeared. That is not true.

&uot;We want to dispel stereotypes about the Nansemond tribe.&uot;

Tourism Director Lynette Brugeman, also a task force member, said that Hampton Roads’ 1.5 million residents would be the immediate market for Mattanock Town. Most of the appeal would be for the region’s 271,000 school-aged children and 38,000 scouts, she said.

Attendance at the Nansemond’s powwows, which have been held at Lone Star for more than a decade, has consistently grown, she said.

&uot;With little or no marketing, the Nansemonds drew 7,500 people to the two-day festival this year,&uot; said Brugeman. &uot;If it was really promoted, there is a good possibility of bringing an even greater number of people here.&uot;