Tribe digs in for new facilities

SUQUAMISH — To help centralize its education facilities on the Port Madison Indian Reservation, the Suquamish Tribe has broken ground for its Suquamish Education Complex.

Recently, 8 acres of a 20-acre parcel off Totten Road were cleared and the site is currently being prepared with stormwater utilities for a 7,000-square-foot modular building. There is no timeline established for the project yet.

The new facility is expected to umbrella all of the tribe’s education programs, including the K-12 Education Assistance Program, the Higher Education Program, the computer laboratory and the tribal library.

Currently, these programs and facilities are scattered throughout the Suquamish reservation, said Tribal spokesman Leonard Forsman.

The K-12 Higher Education building is temporarily located in one of the houses near the Clearwater Casino, while the Marion Forsman-Boushie Early Learning Center is in the Suquamish Village.

“The goal is hopefully to have everything in one spot, from Head Start to higher (education),” Forsman said.

However, whether the early learning center will be located at the site is still up in the air, Forsman said. Tribal Council is checking whether the new building will be meet the program’s federal guidelines.

There has also been talk of the Suquamish starting its own school as there are many tribal students that are in alternative programs run by the tribe, Forsman said. But that, too, is still in the discussion stages.

Six of the 8 acres are being developed for the complex, while the other two will be used for drainfields and a stormwater retention pond. A special culvert is being installed to protect a seasonal stream that runs through the project area.

The project, which is on trust land, so the tribe does not pay local taxes on it, is being financed by tribal funds. The building being used was recently surplused by Seattle City Light.

The tribe is also preparing parts of the Suquamish Village to make way for new facilities for the tribal court and tribal police departments.

The tribal court is currently located on Augusta Way in the center of town and the tribal police department is located on State Route 305. Forsman said another goal is to move the wellness department, currently located in downtown Suquamish, to the village site.

“The Suquamish Tribal Council is excited to finally provide space for some of our programs that have been working in cramped and substandard facilities for many years,” said Tribal Executive Director Wayne George. “The new facilities at Totten Road and the improvements at Suquamish Village Square will allow better working conditions for the tribe’s education programs, court facilities, police department and wellness program and thereby allow us to provide better services to the reservation community.”

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