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Chumash unveil plans for Santa Ynez Museum and Cultural Center

The Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians has unveiled plans for a Tribal Museum and Cultural Center on tribal land in Santa Ynez along Highway 246 across from the Chumash Resort and Casino.

The $32 million project has been at least 14 years in the making.

It’s designed by renowned architect Johnpaul Jones who touted the project’s sustainability and suitability for the Santa Ynez Valley at a press conference Monday at the Chumash Tribal Hall in Santa Ynez.

“What’s really fantastic is about it is half of the site, the western part of it, is a park”, Jones said, “an outdoor learning park, there’s a lot of parts and pieces to that, but there’s going to be a lot of oak trees planted back there.”

Chumash tribal leadership says the project will be a state of the art, one of a kind attraction on the Central Coast.

“I’ve had an opportunity to visit many tribal cultural centers and museums, it’s certainly going to be a gem on the Central Coast here”, said Santa Ynez Chumash Tribal Chairman Kenneth Kahn, “I don’t know if there are others out there that will be similar but we feel pretty confident this is unique to our area.”

Others in the greater Santa Ynez Valley see the Chumash Museum and Cultural Center as a world-class project that will enhance educational opportunities for students, residents and visitors wanting to learn more about the indigenous Chumash culture.

“What they see is a connection between people, between heritage and also have attractions”, said Tracy Farhad with the Solvang Convention and Visitors Bureau, “something of this world class status that’s going to be right here in the Valley is going to be good for everybody.”

Opposition to the Chumash Museum and Cultural Center has come from some Santa Ynez Valley residents and the County of Santa Barbara over the years with various concerns about traffic impacts to Highway 246, public safety, parking impacts in residential neighborhoods and the 6.9 acre site not being big enough to accommodate the project size.

After local legal challenges, the project site was eventually annexed into the Chumash Tribe’s sovereign lands.

Chumash Tribal Chairman Kahn says local concerns about the museum project have been addressed in the lengthy planning process.

“For us initially it was a challenge”, Chairman Kahn said, “building a museum has a lot of complexities, a lot of partnerships and procedural elements that take years of planning so the time was also a blessing in disguise, so we’re feeling confident that we’re well prepared and certainly ready to build this museum.”

Chairman Kahn says the tribe expects to break ground for the Chumash Museum and Cultural Center before the end of the year with project completion within two years.

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