Discussion under way to move Eagle Mountain Casino

July 15, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
People are calling Monday's meeting between the Tule River Tribe and the Tulare County Board of Supervisors "historic."

The Tule River Tribe has long wanted to move the Eagle Mountain Casino Closer to Highway 190. Instead of battling back and forth the tribe and supervisors are hoping they can come together on a number of future projects. The official joint meeting between Tulare County Board of Supervisors and the Tule River Tribe Council was the first of its kind between the two entities.

"This meeting was historic because the county and the tribe are usually at odds," said Neil Peyron, the chairman of the Tule River Tribe.

"We're at the table with you I don't think that's happened in the past and I hope that our future relations become much better." said Mike Ennis, a Tulare County Supervisor.

On the agenda, nearly every issue that has come up in the last decade between the supervisors and the tribe. County officials talked about making major improvements to reservation road. Tribe officials say accidents on the busy thoroughfare have gone up 800 percent. Supervisors say traffic has gone up from 500 to now 3,800 vehicles a day.

" Clearly there's a significant impact on county road and infrastructure and we want to make sure people have a safe trip and safe travels up to the reservation," said Pete Vander Poel a Tulare County Supervisor.

What the groups two have probably been the most at odds about is the tribe's plans to move "Eagle Mountain Casino" closer to the Valley floor. The tribe offers a bus service to and from the remote casino, which is several miles off of the already remote reservation road.

"The discussion to move it was to maybe get a little closer to highway 190 to take all the bad part of the road, the twisted road out so it can be a little safer to get to," Peyron said.

Not to mention the increased income the tribe would get from moving it to an area more accessible to the public. In order for the tribe to move the casino, they would need to purchase new land and then put the land into trust. The county can object to the plans if they think it presents a hazard to public safety or infrastructure.

"If we can address all the impacts that are suffered by the county or had by the county as a result of these gaming entities then I think that meets all of our concerns," Vander Poel said.

Tribal leaders say they are drafting a memorandum of understanding that they will come to the county first if they have plans to move the casino. The casino would be brand new construction, replacing the current Eagle Mountain Casino. The tribe hopes they can build the casino within the next five years, and are hoping they will continue to work positively with the county to make it happen.


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