Tunica-Biloxi Tribe planning public rest area on Melacon Road

Public hearing on $200,000 project set for Saturday

What is now an overgrown tract of property will soon have a new road running through it and a public park to serve this community.

Artha Hale, Land & Roads Program manager for the Tunica-Biloxi Tribe, said the proposed rest area on Melacon Road Extension is the first phase of a long-range plan to restore that part of the reservation to its former beauty.

The rest area project would be funded by a $200,000 grant from the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs. A public hearing on that project is scheduled for 10 a.m. this Saturday (Dec. 9) in the tribe’s Cultural & Educational Resources Center on Melacon Road in Marksville.

“The tribe is extending Melacon Road, which is the main street into the reservation from La. Hwy 1,” Hale said. “That project is part of our plan to restore that part of the reservation land. Right now it is overgrown and doesn’t look like much, but we plan to change that.

“The Tribal Council decided that a ‘road to nowhere’ wasn’t worth much, so they decided to request funds for this rest area,” Hale added.

The rest area will include a parking lot, restroom facilities, covered picnic tables, BBQ grills and a short limestone-surfaced walking trail that will be extended in a future phase of development at the site, Hale said.

A main feature of the site will be a bulletin board providing visitors information about the tribe’s history and culture, as well as announcing upcoming events and news items.

Although the rest area will be on the tribe’s reservation, off La. Hwy 1 in Marksville, Hale said it is important to note that non-tribal visitors will also be welcome.

“We promote our history and culture at the Resource Center on the reservation,” Hale said. “This will be another means to let the public know more about the Tunica-Biloxi Tribe.”

Hale said there is an ancient Native American mound at the site.

“State archaeologists excavated the site in the 1960s or early 1970s, I believe,” he said. “At this time, it is overgrown and you might not even know a mound is there, but it was once a significant site.”

Providing information on that mound is also a possible addition to the rest area project.

Hale said the rest area can be considered “Phase I” of what tribal authorities hope will eventually be a large public park to serve the entire community.

If there are no snags in the road project and the funding for the rest area, construction on the site should begin in the summer or fall of next year, Hale said.

To request a copy of the plan or to submit written comments about the project, contact Hale at 240-6452 or by email at ahale@tunica.org .

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