Proposed casino will be on site of closed down Great Lakes Downs race track.
Bureau of Indian Affairs Issues Notice of Intent
Published September 21, 2015
WASHINGTON— A Muskegon County casino proposed by the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians moved another step forward as the U.S. Department of Interior’s Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) today published a Notice of Intent to undertake the environmental review to place land in trust for gaming purposes for the tribe. The BIA announced a public scoping hearing will be held October 15 at 6 p.m. at Fruitport Middle School auditorium, located at 3113 E. Pontaluna Road.
“This is a long awaited big step for the Little River Band and the Muskegon community to bring economic development to the region as the Notice of Intent publishing kicks off the public part of the review process,” said Tribal Ogema Larry Romanelli. “We strongly encourage the community to join us on October 15 in expressing their opinions that this project will have a positive impact on the Muskegon community. Community feedback is important to the Bureau of Indian Affairs’ ability to evaluate the potential environmental impacts of the project.”
Community input begins October 15 with an opportunity for members of the public to comment on the scope of issues that should be considered by the BIA as it prepares an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) in response to the Tribes’ application to put land into federal trust for development of the proposed Muskegon casino. In addition to accepting written comments, the BIA will also hold a public scoping meeting in the community.
The EIS will take a hard look at the potential environmental impacts of the project, including land use, geology and soils, water resources, agricultural resources, biological resources, cultural resources, traffic, air quality, noise, public health/environmental hazards, hazardous material and waste, public services, and socio-economics.
The Little River Band filed an application last February requesting the Bureau of Indian Affairs to place 60 acres in trust for a $180 million casino and economic development project at the former Great Lakes Downs racetrack site in Fruitport Township. The project is expected to create more than 1,200 new jobs in Muskegon County.
Muskegon County is the home to the Little River Band’s largest population base. Muskegon is one of the Tribe’s service areas and the Tribe maintains governmental offices in Muskegon to serve its members.
“The purpose and need of the proposed action is to improve the economic status of our tribal government so we can better provide housing, health care, education and other services to our elders and youth, particularly those based in Muskegon County,” said Tribal Council Speaker Virg Johnson.
The Little River Band’s proposed gaming and economic development project would include:
- Approximately 69,000 square feet of gaming floor space
- 1,700 slot machines
- 35 table games
- 220-room hotel
- Conference and meeting room space
- Dining and entertainment options
The proposed casino has received wide support from the community including support from Fruitport Township, Fruitport Public Schools, Muskegon County, West Michigan trade unions, The Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce and local businesses. Both Fruitport Township and Muskegon County reaffirmed support for the Tribe’s Muskegon casino project with resolutions of support in June 2014.
The Little River Band has signed a Municipal Services Agreement with Muskegon County and Fruitport Township that consists of the Tribe making payments for public safety, sanitary sewer, public water construction and other services.
The BIA will publish notice of the October 15 scoping hearing in a local newspaper and online at http://www.littlerivereis.com.