Rob Douglas raises a number of vital and valid questions about a possible casino near Yampa Valley Regional Airport in his recent column (“Casino raises questions,” June 8 Steamboat Today). As members of the partnership looking into the viability of this project, we have been asking many of these same questions and have worked hard to get informed answers.
Our due diligence has extended to a number of fact-finding steps. We thought it prudent to first understand the process by which a casino could be developed here in the Yampa Valley. We also commissioned a couple of economic studies to understand whether a casino was viable as a business in the region and then what its impact possibly would be in terms of jobs, regional income, tax revenues and resource demands, among many factors. One of these studies was completed just a few weeks ago. We also held more than 55 meetings with a wide range of people across the valley to help us better educate ourselves about the various questions and concerns that come with a project of this nature. In doing so, we now are better prepared to answer such questions in an honest and thoughtful way.
All of this takes time and effort. On March 22, the Steamboat Today ran a front-page story about the possibility of this project. At that time, we were still gathering key facts and data and didn’t have answers to many of the questions that any common-sense discussion of this project likely would have raised. We told the Steamboat Today that. But we did answer all the questions we could. And we did meet, at our request, with the Steamboat Pilot & Today’s editorial board to answer their questions. Rob Douglas has characterized our efforts as “behind closed doors.” It has been anything but that.
In the upcoming weeks, we anticipate completing our initial due diligence and making all the information we have gathered fully available to each and every member of our communities. We will have a website that will contain our economic studies, a full description of the process involved in siting a casino near the airport, a document that addresses many of the questions likely on the mind of most people, a site plan and an artist rendering of what such a site might look like. As importantly, the website will allow the community to raise questions that most concern them directly with us. We view this step as a beginning of this project’s public process.
Our commitment is to be fully responsive to each and every issue raised by this project. Rob is right when he says there are “pros and cons of an Indian casino in the Yampa Valley.” But we respectfully disagree with his notion that this project should be governed by a timetable that is artificial and prevents the beginning of an informed and thoughtful valley-wide conversation.
Johnny Spillane and Steve Hofman
Partners, Sleeping Giant Group