December 19, 2014

Tribe says bill could lead to massive expansion

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STANDISH TOWNSHIP — The Saginaw-Chippewa Indian Tribe will be able to receive water from the Saginaw-Midland Water Authority once Governor Granholm signs Michigan Senate Bills 674-679, and once the signature is penned, the Tribe plans on taking steps that’ll ultimately lead to a 100,000 square foot expansion of the Saganing Eagle’s Landing Casino.

“The minute we can get some water services out there with a wastewater treatment plant … we’ll probably start a build-out on the casino,” said SCIT Public Relations Manager Frank Cloutier. “The council has said it’d like another 100,000 square feet.”

The Saganing Eagle’s Landing is 33,900 square feet, currently.

However, Cloutier said the bill, after being signed, would first obligate the Tribe to build up a relationship with the Saginaw-Midland Water Authority to receive a raw water feed from the authority. He added a letter from the Authority showing intent to discuss water utilities with the Tribe has already been received. Currently, the casino is supplied with water trucked in from Omer, but the Tribe has expressed interest in receiving municipal water and building its own wastewater treatment plant.

Cloutier said when the bill becomes law, work on the deal with the water authority, as well as design-work on the plant could begin during the winter. He added zoning and planning for the utilities could also be handled during the winter.

“We could do all that the next few months and be shovel-ready for the spring (for the treatment plant),” Cloutier said.

When it comes to the casino expansion project, he said the 279 jobs provided by the casino now would probably triple, like the size of the casino. He added that even in the economic recession, the area has been great to the casino.

“The Arenac area has been a tremendous market share with us,” Cloutier said. “That market share will absolutely support the expansion.”

Cloutier said Tribal Council still has to decide on what it’s looking for in the casino expansion in the realm of gaming.

“I know everybody wants table games,” he said.

Expansion, though, won’t come before the water deal with Saginaw-Midland is negotiated or a wastewater treatment plant is erected, Cloutier said.

“Those aren’t small projects, those are going to take some time,” he said.

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