Plans for casino near Hayden airport move forward | SteamboatToday.com

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Plans for casino near Hayden airport move forward

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March 22, 2012: Casino is being explored near Hayden airport

— Steamboat Springs resident Steve Hofman said Monday that information about a proposed casino near Yampa Valley Regional Airport soon would be available to the public.

"We have understood from the very beginning that not only would the opportunity for public comment and input be appropriate, but essential," Hofman said. "We fully anticipate having those discussions and having the public ask questions we believe we have answers to. And if they ask questions we don't have answers to, then we're going to be obligated to get them answers.

"That's been our approach through this entire process."

A group of Yampa Valley business partners announced in March their interest in developing the Indian gaming facility in Northwest Colorado. The group includes Hofman, Steamboat winter Olympian Johnny Spillane, Hayden resident Dave Marin, Hayden developer Stefanus Nijsten and Nijsten's business partner Bob Zibel.

Nijsten and Zibel developed the Creek View project on the west side of Hayden, and Zibel owns a 187-acre parcel along Routt County Road 51A just northeast of the airport. Zibel's land is the proposed site for the casino and hotel.

Hofman said the group has had more than 50 meetings with several entities during the past six months but did not want to say specifically when information about the project would be available to the public, citing certain preparations that have not been finalized.

For example, designers have not finished artist renderings of what the casino and hotel could look like.

Additionally, the casino partnership contracted with Scott Ford and Kate Nowak, of Yampa Valley Data Partners, to compile economic projections specific to each community in the Yampa Valley.

"Assessing the prospects for a business, whether it's a corner candy store or a casino, involves a thoughtful, comprehensive review of the economics of the project, among other factors," Hofman said. "Building a business and moving forward on a project like this requires a lot of effort and thoughtful decision making."

The casino partners also have plans to launch an interactive website to serve as an avenue for the public to provide input and ask questions about the project in addition to being a source to view informational documents about the casino and partnership.

The website is under construction, Hofman said.

"The website will start that (public comment) process because we'll put into the public domain everything we have," Hofman said. "Then, we'll start the process of reaching out to the general public, as opposed to what we have been doing for the last six months, which is how it should be."

Moffat County residents are encouraged to weigh in on the project as soon as the website is active, Hofman said.

"Job impacts, economic impacts will reach far and wide throughout the valley," Hofman said. "We believe everyone affected should be heard on this."

Little progress for Moffat County casino

In October 2011, Dinosaur officials began discussing plans for a casino, hotel and restaurant with the Ute Indian Tribe, of the Uintah and Ouray reservation in Fort Duchesne, Utah.

Dinosaur mayor L.D. Smith said little has changed in his community's bid to bring the Indian gaming facility to the far west end of Moffat County.

In March, Denver-based Gaming Market Advisors completed a feasibility study for the project and turned it over to Ute Tribe officials.

Smith has not seen results of the study.

"We're just waiting to hear back from the tribe. It's still in their hands," Smith said. "I was hoping to break ground this summer, but that may not happen until later."