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City of Indio moves forward with plans for John Nobles Memorial Park

Indio city officials say that the park will honor John Nobles and the community he founded, Nobles Ranch. 

John Nobles, a Black sharecropper who arrived in the Coachella Valley in the 1920s, was known to sell or give sections of his land to fellow Black settlers. Nobles Ranch, which now sits as an empty lot behind the Indio Grand Marketplace development, was once a thriving Black community for decades. 

In 1987, Nobles Ranch residents filed a suit against the city after plans to expand the Indio Fashion Mall, now the Indio Grand Marketplace development, led to officials taking eminent domain of the land. 

The plans for the expansion of the mall never materialized but Nobles Ranch residents were displaced nonetheless. The city is now working to use the empty lot to build up the Downtown Indio area with a new apartment and restaurant complex, hotel, and a park honoring John Nobles and the displaced residents of Nobles Ranch. 

“There's not a development, there's not a building or anything that can replace what took place. However, we have to come together, wrap our arms around this and learn how to move forward. I think this is the right time," said Mayor of Indio, Waymond Fermon.

City officials are now looking for public input, namely from former Nobles Ranch residents, as they continue the planning process for this new development. 

“I hope that it doesn't stop there, that we look at other ways to allow community members who were once a part of that community or their descendants to participate in the economic benefits of what's going to take place with the renovation of the mall,” said Troy Strange, a Nobles Ranch committee member.

The city is holding a community meeting regarding their plans for the development on Nov. 30 at 6 p.m. The meeting is open to all residents but former residents or descendants of those who lived in the Nobles Ranch community are especially encouraged to attend. 

Stay with News Channel 3 for updates.

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Tatum Larsen


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