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Allegan Angered By Casino Delays
(Editor’s note: This is the second installment of a series of stories examining the potential economic and public impact in the vicinity of the planned Gun Lake Casino.)
DORR — The Allegan Area Educational Service Agency, formerly known as the Allegan Intermediate School District, is an unlikely advocate for the expansion of casino gambling into West Michigan. The organization, along with member districts Wayland, Hopkins and Allegan, have all publicly supported the Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish Band of Pottawatomi Indians’ efforts to develop a tribal casino in Wayland Township.
“When you start talking to superintendents across the state, you find that every place a casino has gone in it’s had a positive impact to local school districts,” said AAESA Superintendent Ron Fuller. “That’s why I’m here — for increased opportunities for kids in
Fuller is among a collection of stakeholders from Wayland-area community organizations and municipal governments that recently sat down with the Business Journal in Dorr to discuss the potential impacts of the Gun Lake Casino.
“Tribal casinos have really partnered with the surrounding school districts, and I think it’s going to benefit all the kids we serve,” Fuller said. “So I’m willing to stand up and speak to it.”
As stipulated in Gov. Jennifer Granholm’s Class III gaming compact with the tribe, pending approval by the state Senate, local governments will receive 2 percent of the casino’s slot revenue. The Little River Casino Resort in Manistee had slot revenue of $81 million in its first year of operation in 2000 and $160 million the next. The Soaring
With its portion of the funding,
“We’re probably looking at some big projects down the road,” said Roger Van Volkinburg,
As the nearest commercial corridor to Bradley, the city of
“I don’t think we’re in a position to turn down jobs,” said Plainwell City
“We’re not going to engage in any of the ethical discussions, but we certainly hope to capture the economic benefit from having a casino 10 minutes away.”
The Allegan County Sheriff’s Department will add an additional four deputies, a sergeant and associated equipment from a separate allocation arranged by the tribe with the county to cover any increased demand for public safety services in the Bradley area.
“It doesn’t matter if it’s a big-box store or a casino, any time you see any type of economic growth you see an additional burden on law enforcement,” said Lt. Frank Baker, who oversees police actions in the Wayland area. “There has been a lot of growth along the M-89 corridor (which runs through Plainwell, Otsego and into the city of
The casino has been delayed for much of this decade by various opposition efforts, primarily a group of Grand Rapids businessmen and politicians aligned under the banner of the recently shuttered PAC 23 is
Initially, the casino plan was stalled by lengthy process delays publicly attributed to the lobbying efforts of 23 is
“What you have is the city in the state that is growing the most economically,
There is palpable disdain for
“We were told that if we supported downtown
“There has never been an alternative option for what to do with our vacant buildings,” added Van Volkinburg, referring to the 147-acre Ampro facility that will eventually be converted into the casino. “The only person that came to the township was the tribe. If you’ve got a better idea for that property, if you’ve got a business that wants to move in there, then send them to me.”
Through its opposition of the casino,
“We are not blindly following the pied piper down the well because we’re not intelligent enough to do our homework,” Straub said. “Our confidence in this has not come lightly.”
Next Week: The