City, tribe officials plan to continue discussions
Source: Elk Grove Citizen, by Bryan M. Gold
Elk Grove city and Wilton Rancheria officials plan to continue discussions about a potential casino project just north of the future Outlet Collection at Elk Grove mall site.
A draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) created by the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Indian Affairs indicates the tribe prefers a 282-acre parcel north of Galt as the site for a casino complex.
Tribal officials asked the federal agency to take the parcel that is in Galt’s sphere of influence into trust. That would then remove the property from the Sacramento County rolls.
But there are two alternative sites for the project.
One site is the Historic Wilton Rancheria site on approximately 75 acres between Dillard Road and the Cosumnes River in Wilton. Another site is 28 acres near the partially built Elk Grove mall.
The tribe’s casino project plan calls for the full buildout to cover 76 acres, but the property at the mall site is large enough for a casino, a 12-story hotel with 307 rooms, and a 48,150-square-foot convention center.
Speaking at a Jan. 29 public forum in Galt, Elk Grove Economic Development Director Darrell Doan said the city and the tribe held and will hold discussions on the project but he said the city hasn’t taken a formal position on the project.
“We are carefully evaluating the environmental impact statement,” he said, adding the city will provide formal comments to the federal agency before the Feb. 29 deadline.
Tribal Chair Raymond Hitchcock told about 200 people at the meeting in Galt that any of the proposed sites are “viable” options.
He added that the tribe would provide annual contributions to jurisdictions with significant environmental impacts on this project, including police and fire services, road maintenance, and social services.
“We’re committed to being a good partner with all of our neighbors and jurisdictions alike,” Hitchcock said.
Cosumnes Fire Chief Tracey Hansen that said her staff had dialogue with the tribe.
Elk Grove City Spokesperson Kristyn Staby stated in an email, “The city remains committed to working with the tribe to mitigate any potential impacts, should the tribe ultimately decide to pursue the Elk Grove site.”
A majority of the more than 40 people to comment on the project, including several people from the tribe and Galt District Chamber of Commerce officials, said they supported the project.
But Janene Lawrence, who was born and raised in Elk Grove before moving to Galt 14 years ago, said she is not in favor of the casino.
“Why would the federal government take land from the community for this purpose?” she asked. “(Southern Sacramento County) is known for its farmland, cow pastures, vineyards, and wildlife refuge. Putting a casino on land that could be used in other ways to generate money for the city (of Galt) is stupid.”
Elk Grove resident Lynn Wheat told the federal agency that infrastructure exists at the mall site. She added that the cities of Elk Grove and Galt could work with the tribe to preserve the farmland in the southern part of the county.
Wheat also recalled what happened in 2007 when mall officials said the mall would be built. She pointed out that was more than eight years ago.