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Find another site for Chandler-area casino

The recent announcement by the Gila River Indian Community to locate a casino at Gilbert Road and Hunt Highway has generated numerous calls and e-mails to my legislative office.
It was a surprise to almost everyone outside of the community that this location was being considered. The Indian Gaming Compact requires casinos to be at least one and a half miles apart. While I had heard that the Wild Horse Pass Casino was going to be relocated on the west side of I-10, I did not realize until recently that its relocation would create this domino effect that could impact my district. I hope that in the spirit of cooperation among neighbors, we will all work to find more effective ways to communicate in the future.
With that said, it is important that my constituents understand this decision rests entirely with the Gila River Indian Community’s Tribal Council. A review of the gaming compact by my legislative staff and inquiries with the Arizona Department of Gaming, representatives of Gov. Janet Napolitano’s office and the city of Chandler’s staff confirm this.
The Tribal Council has every right to do what is in the best interest of their members. However, neighboring jurisdictions often work together to grow and develop in ways that mitigate the negative impacts on each other. For example, the city of Chandler recently denied a proposal to expand its auto mall. Some of the opponents of the project lived in Chandler, but most of the people who were against it lived in the Gilbert. Still, the Chandler City Council listened and changed its plan to accommodate the concerns of our neighbors. The law does not mandate this type of cooperation, but the future success of our region will depend upon it.
The ideas provided by the members of the community, as well as residents of south Chandler, opposing this location should have an impact on the tribal leaders’ decision-making. Community members are concerned that this development will forever change the character of the land in the area. The Gila River Indian Community participated with the city of Chandler and other entities to achieve an historic water settlement that ensures the availability of irrigation water for farming. This long-time dream of restoring agriculture to these vacant fields is just now becoming a reality. Building a casino in the area could end that dream.
Chandler residents are also concerned with the traffic the project will generate. The road system in the area has been built to accommodate residential development, not the transportation demands of a casino and commercial development of this magnitude. Increased traffic will alter the lifestyle of these quiet neighborhoods.
By working together, the people of both the Gila River Indian Community and the city of Chandler have an opportunity to convince the tribal leaders to find a new location for this project. One proposed site that should be considered is closer to I-10 near the Casa Grande interchange. The final decision has not been made and there is time to make a difference. I will continue to be proactive on this issue and will encourage this alternative location.
Sen. Jay Tibshraeny, R-21, served as Chandler mayor from 1994 to 2002.

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