Officials in Kern County, California, are reportedly scheduled to meet on Wednesday to further discuss a proposal from the Timbisha Shoshone Tribe to build a new $29 million casino at a site near the Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake.
The federally-recognized Timbisha Shoshone Tribe wants to construct a 20,000 sq ft casino in the city of Ridgecrest, which is some 130 miles away from its reservation in Death Valley National Park, offering some 349 slots alongside six table games, a pair of restaurants and an entertainments lounge.
According to a report from the Mount Shasta Herald newspaper, last year saw the city council for Ridgecrest approve a municipal services agreement and land sale deal with the tribe worth approximately $5.5 million after some five months of heated public discussions. Now the body wants an update on the project and last week e-mailed the Timbisha Shoshone Tribe with a list of questions that it hopes to have answered as part of its first meeting of the year on January 18.
“Could you please provide me with an update as to your progress on the project with regard to environmental review and governmental approval status,” read the e-mail sent to the tribe by Gary Parsons, Economic Development Manager for Ridgecrest.
Parsons reportedly went on to ask if the tribe hoped to secure the 26-acre parcel of land for the planned casino via a fee-to-trust process or as a land swap/two-part determination while additionally requesting to be informed of the next steps in the procedure along with a timeline.
“If land swap, what is the process,” read the e-mail from Parsons. “Will this be an act of Congress and who will present it? Or if through the Bureau Of Indian Affairs realty, who is it working with?”
At the time of inking the 20-year municipal services agreement, the Timbisha Shoshone Tribe explained that it hoped to submit a land-into-trust application with the Bureau Of Indian Affairs for the parcel near the entrance to the United States Navy base and explained that the coming casino would be a “family-run business” designed to help ensure a better future for its younger generations.
“I have been approached by members of the community who stated they were asked by the developer to be an investor in the casino development,” read the e-mail from Parsons. “If funding is unavailable/unattainable or with the recent administration change this project has become a no go for the [Timbisha Shoshone Tribe], would it like to exit the escrow agreement now?”
Lindsey Stephens, a member of the city council for Ridgecrest, reportedly declared that the body should consider drafting a letter to the Bureau Of Indian Affairs asking to be notified when the tribe begins its National Environmental Policy Act processes and that the municipality should moreover “send an additional letter requesting to be a cooperating agency”.