Group comes forward against proposed Hayden casino | SteamboatToday.com

Group comes forward against proposed Hayden casino

Steamboat Springs resident Bill Cousins has helped form the No Casino group that is opposing plans for a casino near Yampa Valley Regional Airport. The group has a booth set up this week at the Routt County Fair.

— A group of Routt County residents has banded together to oppose a proposed Indian casino near Yampa Valley Regional Airport in Hayden.

"We want to put the other side of the picture to the community and really spell out what the negative impacts the casino will have," Bill Cousins said Thursday. "It's not all roses like it's put out to be."

Cousins, who has been a full-time Steamboat Springs resident for about four years, helped found the group that calls itself No Casino. He said the group has collected the signatures of about 200 residents and visitors in an online petition against the casino. The petition is at http://www.signon.org/sign/nocasino, where the names of people who have signed the petition are listed.

Cousins, who has been vocal in the local medical marijuana, sandhill crane hunting and Steamboat 700 debates, said he began looking into starting an opposition group after attending a July 30 community meeting in Steamboat Springs. The meeting was hosted by the Sleeping Giant Group, a partnership of mostly local men who are proposing the development of a casino and related businesses.

"I'm not saying I'm trying to stir things up," Cousins said Thursday at a No Casino booth set up at the Routt County Fair in Hayden. "I'm concerned for the community of Steamboat and the Yampa Valley."

Cousins said about six people are on a committee that is leading No Casino, but he declined to say who those people were. Cousins said the No Casino group will host its own community meeting to discuss the casino.

According to No Casino's literature, the group has numerous concerns including the social impacts of a casino and the effect it would have on the Yampa Valley's image as a family vacation destination. No Casino’s literature argues that the majority of any new jobs created by the casino would be low paying and that local services and infrastructure would be "overloaded and the burden to upgrade these facilities will fall on the shoulders of the local community with the need for new and increased taxes."

"The whole financial aspect of it, it raises a lot of questions," Cousins said.

Steve Hofman, one of the Sleeping Giant Group partners, said his group knew there would be people opposed to a casino. He said many of No Casino's claims are unsupported.

"We would hope that the dialogue and the conversation would be informative and substantiated and not designed to influence people's passions on the basis of unsupported assertions," Hofman said.

Hofman and Sleeping Giant Group partner Johnny Spillane also released a written statement Thursday responding to No Casino.

"So far our outreach to the community gives us no reason to believe that the effort by Mr. Cousins represents little more than a minority of voices throughout the valley," the statement reads.

To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247 or email mstensland@SteamboatToday.com