What are consequences of casino?

Editor's note: This was sent as an open letter to the Snoqualmie City Council.

Editor’s note: This was sent as an open letter to the Snoqualmie City Council.

Are you drinking the Kool-Aid? Articles in the Seattle Times (“Tribe, city sign deal to pave way for Snoqualmie casino off I-90,” May 5) and the Snoqualmie Valley Record (“Tribe and Snoqualmie reach deal for proposed casino services,” May 6) included nothing but favorable discussion regarding the benefits to the residents of Snoqualmie regarding the subject project.

In the Times article, Snoqualmie Tribal Administrator Matt Mattson is quoted as saying, “As far as we can tell, there’s no [community] opposition to the project, but it’s still jammed up in the bureaucracy.” Have you solicited the input of your constituents?

I can’t be the only resident of the township that sees a casino as inconsistent with the quality of life I expected when I built my home and committed to raise my family in this community. Each of you makes reference in your bios on the city of Snoqualmie Web site in some way shape or form to a beautiful, safe, small town that attracted you to make Snoqualmie home for your families with a pledge to preserve and protect those qualities. Do you believe that support for this project is in keeping with that promise?

Setting aside the enforceability of the contractual commitments to reimburse the city for costs associated with expanded sewer, police, fire and related services, I am concerned about the experience of other communities in which the quality of life has already shown the fallout from casinos operating in them. Have you checked out those consequences? Your constituents won’t be asked to vote on this project, but, the content is revealing as it relates to community consequences.

I have been corresponding with the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) regarding the Environmental Assessment of the plan for most of last year. Their responses to my principal objection regarding the inappropriateness of siting a decidedly commercial use in a location where all of the established neighboring uses are rural residences has been incomplete. My most recent letter to the Portland office of the BIA is attached. As of today, I have not received a response despite repeated follow-up calls.

It is my understanding that they have recently completed their review of the Environmental Assessment and have recommended to the Washington D.C. office that the application to convert the 56-acre site from fee to trust (the process for creating a reservation with the associated sovereign rights) be approved. If the D.C. office agrees, a public comment period (may be as little as 30 days) is required before action can be taken to finalize the conversion of the land.

Any effective community opposition needs to be anticipated and organized given the short response period. Who among you is willing to review the record and expose community costs, which are unmitigated in the current contract for services?

I look forward to your thoughts.

Tom Wilson