Tule River Tribe Chairman lays out major proposal to move casino to Porterville

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The casino wouldn't change much, but there would be a 250 room hotel, along with 29,000 square-feet of convention space. (KFSN)

If Eagle Mountain Casino moves from the Tule River Reservation to a 40-acre property next to the Porterville Airport, Tule River Tribe Chairman Neil Peyron says it will free up the reservation's limited water supply, and allow dozens of families to live on site who currently cannot due to a building moratorium.

"This will allow us to move forward with some housing projects that we already have in the works that we had to actually put a hold on," Peyron said.

Officials estimate the move would create hundreds of jobs.

The casino wouldn't change much, but there would be a 250 room hotel, along with 29,000 square-feet of convention space.

"(It would) be able to provide for events, weddings, conventions, and draw people to our District Five here in Tulare County," Peyron said.

Before construction begins, the Bureau of Indian Affairs must approve the move by conducting an environmental impact statement as part of a fee to trust process.

The tribe must also work with the state, county, and city. If all goes according to plan, the $180 million project could be completed within three years.

Peyron says they're determined to get it done.

"We're just happy to be part of it and happy that we have a great relationship with the county and the city right now and everything is going good," he said.

Porterville City Manager John Lollis met with tribal officials Thursday to discuss the project, and says the city plays a critical role in the process because the property lies within its limits.

"It would need to connect to city infrastructure, for water, sewer, storm drain, all of those essential services, transportation and transit," Lollis said.

Beyond that, the city anticipates economic opportunities as a result of the project that could make the city and south county a much more attractive tourist destination.

There will be a public scoping meeting on January 23rd at the Porterville Veterans Memorial Building-- it starts at 6 p.m.
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