GROVE - The future of a proposed $60 million Seneca-Cayuga casino to be built on Grand Lake is questionable, according to a city group opposed to building the casino.
Darrell Mastin and Steve Dyer, organizers of a citizens' group opposed to the building of the gaming facility, said the Seneca-Cayuga Tribe's trust application is still processing.
An estimated 25 people attended a “No Casino In Grove” meeting Thursday night.
The Miami based tribe spent more than $1 million to acquiring 30 acres west of Grove near Sail Boat Bridge and announced plans to build a 100,000-square-foot lakefront casino.
About 450 people are expected be employed at the facility which will house about 1,000 gambling machines. Plans also include a five-story hotel with 125 rooms and three restaurants, including a steakhouse, sports bar and a convention center.
The tribe has made application to the Bureau of Indian Affairs for the land to be held in trust for gaming purposes. Federal law mandates any land for a casino is required to be put in trust as per the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act of 1988.
Jeanette Hanna, BIA Regional Director said earlier that the federal agency sent a letter to the tribe requesting documents concerning environmental issues. The federal agency confirmed the application is still active, but that they are waiting for the tribe to follow-up with the requested documents.
“We have another opportunity for input,” Mastin said.
In a letter from the Department of Interior, the office of Indian Gaming said a determination of whether to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement will be made upon review of the environmental assessment.
The Muskogee BIA office is responsible for reviewing the proposed trust acquisition by the Seneca-Cayuga Tribe and will solicit public participation in the preparation of the environmental assessment.
“No Casino in Grove” will request from the BIA office a “full blown” Environmental Impact Study rather than an Environmental Assessment, Mastin said.
“Grand Lake is our water supply”, Dyer said.
The group also plans to ask for the status of an Environmental Assessment of the land and a timeline regarding the Tribe's Trust request.
Seneca-Cayuga Second Chief Katie Birdsong said in August that the proposed casino was on hold, attributing the delay to internal issues.
When asked last week about the status of the proposed casino Birdsong referred questions to Chief LeRoy Howard and Rick Smith Grand Lake Casino general manager.
Chief Howard's office said he was unavailable for comment because he was out of town for several days.
Smith said he hasn't heard of any progress on the proposed casino, but added the tribe is involved with the transition from former chief Paul Spicer to Howard and a National Indian Gaming Commission investigation.
The National Indian Gaming Commission launched an investigation in August into severance payments made by former chief Paul Spicer.
Most severance checks were around $20,000.
Investigators are also looking into questions about where gaming revenue is going.
Spicer resigned from his position with the tribe prior to the June election, but later rescinded the resignation.
The BIA has confirmed that Howard is the official interim chief until the election dispute can be resolved by the tribe.
Birdsong said the investigation is still on-going.