Archive for Wednesday, October 9, 2002

Tribal casino sets sights on Edwardsville on Edwardsville

October 9, 2002

Lady Luck may shine on Edwardsville.

City and Wyandotte Indian Nation representatives have reached an agreement to locate a major new casino and resort complex on Interstate 70 just west of Interstate 435 in Edwardsville.

The Wyandotte Nation has purchased 52.6 acres of land south of I-70 and north of Riverview Road between South 110th and 102nd streets.

The first phase of the project will include the construction of a casino that will operate 2,500 slot machines and 100 gaming tables.

A second phase will include the construction of a 535 room hotel 350 double-queen rooms, 125 single-king rooms, 20 two-room suites, four three-room suites and one "presidential suite" of eight rooms.

Future plans include a convention center, commercial shopping complex and 36-hole golf course.

"I think it's going to be a great thing for the community and our city," Mayor Luther Pickell said.

The announcement comes the day after Congressman Dennis Moore introduced a bill that would settle the land claim dispute between the Wyandotte Nation and Unified Government of Wyandotte County and Kansas City Kansas.

Tribe members filed a lawsuit in federal court against the Unified Government and several businesses in the Fairfax Business District seeking the title rights to 4,080 parcels of land valued at $1.9 billion. The land was deeded to the Wyandotte Nation through an agreement with the Delaware Nation in 1843.

The land was held in trust by the United States for the benefit of the Wyandotte Nation, but the land was never given to the U.S., according to the lawsuit.

The Wyandotte Nation Land Claims Settlement Act, developed from negotiations between Unified Government and the Wyandotte Nation, would resolve the land claims by designating the 52 acres in Edwardsville as a reservation. This would also allow the tribe to establish a casino on the property.

The tribe has also optioned more acreage south and west of the property, but it would not fall under the reservation stamp.

Tribe members would drop the lawsuit and drop all future claims to land in Wyandotte County, said Mike Sawruk with the NORAM company that is organizing the casino and resort development for the Wyandotte Nation.

"We're very much encouraged that Rep. Dennis Moore has taken the initiate to settle this matter, " he said.

Sawruk said tribe members support the measure.

Wyandotte Nation Chief Leaford Bearskin was unavailable for comment because of travel.

If Congress passes the measure, and a compact is worked out with the state, the development would not only benefit the city, but the county, school district and the state, and those businesses that are currently tied up in the lawsuit, Sawruk said.

According to projection numbers provided to the city, the Indian Casino and Resort Development would generate $250 million in its first year of operation.

According to the agreement, Edwardsville would receive 2 percent of the casino and resort's revenue each year. During the first year of operation, Edwardsville will receive more than $4 million in payments.

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