Source: Elk Grove Citizen, By Lance Armstrong - Citizen Staff Writer
The Wilton Rancheria continues to evaluate where it might establish Sacramento County’s first Indian casino.
One option for the location of the project is a 28-acre site, along Highway 99, adjacent to the future mall, The Outlet Collection at Elk Grove, in the south part of Elk Grove.
They are also considering a 282-acre site, north of Twin Cities Road and west of Highway 99 in an unincorporated area of the county, just north of Galt and within that city’s sphere of influence.
A third option is to have the casino built on about 75 acres, between Dillard Road and the Cosumnes River in Wilton.
Although the latter option is on the historic Wilton Rancheria site, it is considered the lesser option of the three casino site possibilities due to its location. Unlike the Wilton site, both the Elk Grove and Galt sites are conveniently located along a freeway.
The Wilton Rancheria submitted an application to place the Galt area site into trust, which would result in that property’s removal from the Sacramento County rolls.
Additionally, a draft environmental impact statement (EIS) recognizes the Galt area site as the preferred site for the casino.
However, Raymond Hitchcock, Wilton Rancheria tribal chair, stated last week that the tribe is not yet prepared to make a decision on a location for the casino.
Hitchcock explained why the Elk Grove site continues to remain a strong option for the tribe’s future casino project, which would include other amenities such as a hotel, convention center and restaurants.
“As the Bureau of Indian Affairs’ (National Environmental Policy Act) process and environmental review has advanced, several factors with respect to the Elk Grove site have made it attractive from the tribe’s perspective,” he said. “At the site, there is already substantial infrastructure. The Grant Line (Road) freeway overcrossing, near the site, provides easy in and out access. The site contains water and sewer hookups. Electrical hookups are nearby. There are roads, curbs and gutters in place. In addition, the land is currently zoned for commercial use.”
Hitchcock also mentioned that community input will play a strong role in the tribe’s decision-making process for the future casino site.
“To us, this is a community project,” he said. “We want to reach out to community organizations, citizens and businesses in Elk Grove to get their input and feedback before we can make a final decision on (a) location.”
In the event that the tribe decides to have a casino constructed in Elk Grove, a memorandum of understanding (MOU) is in place between the tribe, the city of Elk Grove and the county of Sacramento.
The MOU, Hitchcock said, requires the tribe to “provide mitigation for any significant effects related to a potential development in Elk Grove.”
Hitchcock added that the tribe anticipates that amounts paid to the city by way of the MOU or any future agreements would be substantial.
Elk Grove City Council Member Pat Hume said that he has received varying opinions regarding a casino being located in Elk Grove.
“The community in Galt is very much divided, which is kind of the feedback I’ve received in Elk Grove of people who are for it and people who are against it,” he said.
Hume also spoke on the possible economic and social aspects of such a local project.
“As far as the economic aspect of it, it’s big,” he said. “So, then the question is what is the social impact to the community? That’s one I’m not so sure on yet. I like the community center, I like the outdoor concert venue, I don’t mind the hotel, but do we want gaming? Is that true to a sort of Elk Grove traditional value?”
Hume added that in weighing the pros and cons of the project, thus far he finds it to have more benefits than potential negative impacts.
“Other than a societal impact, as far as people’s opinion of gaming, the benefits to me far outweigh, because most of the physical impacts, traffic and these types of things, they will have to pay mitigation for,” he said.
Mayor Gary Davis could not be reached for comment by press time.
The Wilton Rancheria encourages Elk Grove residents to provide their input on its draft EIS, as well as its consideration of the Elk Grove site. The draft EIS can be read at www.wiltoneis.com
Comments should be made directly to the Bureau of Indian Affairs and should arrive by Feb. 29. Comments may be made by mail or in person to Amy Dutschke, Bureau of Indian Affairs, 2800 Cottage Way, Sacramento, CA 95825, or by email to John Rydzik at email@example.com