Archive for Thursday, April 26, 2001

Casino plan rolls snake eyes with city

April 26, 2001

If the Delaware Tribe of Indians were betting on the approval of the Basehor City Council for a proposed casino, they would have lost.

Every City Council member, while not addressing the morality in gaming, said they felt like the casino project was not right for the city.

"I just don't like it here," Council member Julian Espinoza said. "It's kind of like the saying not in my back-yard. It's the same thing. To me, it doesn't fit the atmosphere of the community. This is a bedroom community, and I don't know that I would personally want to see that upset by having a casino here. I know there is a lot of dollars being thrown around, but that really doesn't matter to me."

Michael Pace, the tribe's economic development director, said the tribe has focused its attention on two different sites within Leavenworth County to place the casino.

Pace said the first tract of land is along Kansas Highway 7 just north of 24-40 Highway. The second is three miles east of Tonganoxie on the north side of 24-40.

The $60 million casino project would include a hotel, gift shop and museum.

The tribe estimates $25 million dollars in revenue and has said it would be willing to make annual contributions to local government and area schools in near-by communities.

The tribe has said previously that placing a casino in Leavenworth County would merely be a return to land that was taken away from it 100 years ago.

According to tribe representatives, wherever the casino project settles, they want to be a good fit for the neighboring communities.

So far the tribe has met resistance at informational meetings in Basehor as well as Tonganoxie. In Tonganoxie, there has been a petition against the casino circulating.

Council member Joe Odle said he had no opposition to the gaming industry itself, but the majority of his constiuents are against the idea of a casino, therefore, so is he.

"As it stands right now with the people who have contacted me, I would be against it," Odle said. "This is not to say that I am against gambling because I go over to the boat every once in a while myself. I just think in this instance I am going to let the public decide and, from what I have heard, they are against it."

Before construction of the casino begins, the tribe must receive permission from the Bureau of Indian Affairs to put the land in trust.

From there, the tribe would have to get the approval of the Kansas Legislauture as well as Kansas Gov. Bill Graves. The tribe could see resistance from Graves because the tribe is non-indegenous to Kansas.

The tribe first met with the Basehor City Council in late February and also gave a presentation to Basehor residents in March. Since then, the tribe has had no official contact with the city, according to city officials.

Pace will be the featured guest speaker of the Basehor Historical Society at its meeting on Saturday.

He will give a presentation about the Delaware Tribe of Indians' history while they were located in Leavenworth County.

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