The approximate 25,000 residents of the small Sacramento County City of Galt are all abuzz with the news of a new casino and hotel to be built just off Highway 99.
Released on Tuesday, a new environmental report shows plans for 18 months of construction for a large-scale project north of Twin Cities Road. The plan from the Wilton Rancheria tribe, which will be a battle for jobs, calls for the transformation of farmland into a Class III casino with a 12-story hotel. As many as 2,000 permanent casino jobs are being promised by the tribe, according to tribal Chairman Raymond Hitchcock. The location is less than 30 miles from Sacramento.
An environmental impact study of the 282-acre site shows 62 percent of the tribe’s 700 members currently live below federal poverty levels. The draft’s 716 pages that spell out the proposal were just unveiled. While the jobs are sorely needed, not everyone in Galt wants the rural roots of the region to be altered. Some residents are anticipating the increase in traffic and tourism that a new casino will bring, and are dreading it.
Galt Mayor Mark Crews said, “You’ve got an increased tax base coming,” and consultants have been hired by the city to explore the deal in depth. While Crews made note of the benefits of the new casino, he also cautioned, “I want to know what the balance is. I want to know what the negatives are if there are any,” according to KCRA 3. When asked to elaborate, Crews said, “Traffic, potential crime, overgrowth — the last thing we want to see is this community explode.” Crews said he wants to work closely with the tribe so that any problems can be handled prior to the project’s approval.
If all goes according to plan and the Bureau of Indian Affairs gives a thumbs up, the project will begin in January 2018 with an anticipated completion date of fall 2019. A public hearing is scheduled for January 29, 2016 at the Chabolla Community Center, and the public has until February 12 to comment.