From the Journal Newspapers:
Romulus Mayor will pitch casino approval on Capitol Hill
A delegation of city officials hope elected officials will be swayed by testimony they plan to give regarding the impact a casino would have in Wayne County before the Legislature early in 2008.
Mayor Alan Lambert and Economic Development Director Tim Keyes are scheduled to leave the city for Washington DC in the second week of February to answer questions about the proposed casino.
It will be the second time Lambert has traveled to the nations’ capital in support of casino gaming in Romulus.
“I plan to tell (legislators) that they need to help us here in Michigan, and that we had a referendum in our city, and that voters supported us,” he said.
“We have a situation where jobs are leaving the state, and Wayne County has been impacted by this. We simply need the jobs — we want the area around the airport to have the amenities we see in other cities,” he added. “And we’re in an awful lot of economic pain here.”
The $250 million casino that the Hannahville Tribe of Potawatomi Indians hopes to build would be located on a now-vacant 24-acre parcel of Vining and Wick roads, which is about a half-mile from the Detroit Metropolitan Airport. The development would include a 200-room hotel, and could employ up to 2,000 workers, according to estimates by the city.
The Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians are also interested in operating casinos in the city, as well.
There are some obstacles in the way of casino gaming, however.
An agreement signed by Gov. John Engler and seven Indian tribes in Michigan in 1994 allows the tribes to open an off-reservation casino as part of a lawsuit settlement.
The U.S. Secretary of Interior and Michigan officials must approve the project. The land would be placed in a trust that would pave the way for the construction. Such an arrangement is rare, and there’s no guarantee the Interior Department will approve the project, officials said.
Opposition to casinos in Romulus is building in Detroit, where three casinos operate.
“I will tell them that we would not likely hurt Detroit because we’re far enough away from the city,” said Lambert. “Of course they don’t want the competition — but one municipality shouldn’t have a lock on this type of project.”
Officials in Romulus hope testifying again before Congress will create a groundswell of support. Rep. John Dingell (D-Dearborn), is an advocate of the project, and will be on hand during the hearings, Lambert said.
“We’re hoping to see some movement on the casinos in 2008,” Lambert said. “We still think Romulus is a great place for a casino. We’re not going to give up.”