In Michigan, a plan from the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians to construct a $180 million casino resort in southern Muskegon County reportedly received a large amount of local encouragement yesterday.
According to a report from the digital news service at MLive Media Group, a large crowd assembled in the auditorium of a Muskegon-area school on Wednesday to hear about the federally-recognized tribe’s proposal with over 90% of the 53 attendees who spoke voicing some level of support.
The meeting also saw local government officials, non-profit organizations and business leaders back the project that would see the former Great Lakes Downs Racetrack in Fruitport Charter Township transformed into a 220-room casino resort complete with meeting and conference spaces as well as entertainment and dining options.
Extensive gaming options:
Larry Romanelli, Tribal Chief for the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians, reportedly told the digital news service that his tribe purchased the 60-acre site for the envisioned development in 2008 and hopes that the finished project will additionally feature an around 69,000 sq ft casino offering approximately 1,700 slots as well as about 35 gaming tables.
MLive Media Group moreover cited Romanelli as declaring that his tribe’s enterprise could begin welcoming guests as soon as 2020 following about 18 months of construction and would lead to some 1,200 full-time jobs paying an average annual salary of approximately $45,000.
Land into trust application:
However, the digital news service explained that none of this can happen until the United States Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Indian Affairs places the land for the casino resort into trust for the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians. It detailed that yesterday’s public meeting was part of this process and followed last month’s publication of a draft environmental impact statement on the project.
MLive reported that the Bureau of Indian Affairs is to continue accepting comments on the proposed casino until January 7 before publishing its final environmental impact statement in the spring.
Despite the over decade-long wait for permission to start building, Romanelli told the digital news service that he remains optimistic and hopes that the coming casino resort will help the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians, which already runs the 292-room Little River Casino Resort in nearby Manistee County, to provide health care, housing and other services to tribal members living in the Muskegon area.
Romanelli to MLive Media Group…
“I’ve received nothing but encouragement and support since the announcement of the plan. I have high hopes that the state Governor, House and Senate will be supportive. We’re in a good place and doing this for good reasons. They all understand jobs in west Michigan.”