Spokane City Council drops opposition to tribal casino




Posted on February 24, 2014 at 9:01 PM

Updated Tuesday, Feb 25 at 7:21 AM

SPOKANE, Wash. -- The Spokane City Council opposed building a new casino in Airway Heights two years ago, but council members dropped their opposition to the casino Monday night.

The council switched its position Monday to neutral -- neither for nor against.

The Spokane tribe economic project or step promises to bring thousands of jobs to the area and invest millions of dollars locally.

READ: City reconsidering Spokane Tribe's casino plans

The Spokane City Council voted narrowly to oppose the tribe's casino plans in March of 2012.

"I'm very excited that they are reconsidering this, initially they were premature to their decision to oppose it,” said Spokane Tribal Business Council Carol Evans.

Opponents said the casino would be too close to Fairchild Air Force Base and would hurt the base’s chances to stay open.

"We oppose any change that the city council will be putting together tonight, we want to make sure Fairchild will be there for future generations,” said Sandra Jarrard with Greater Spokane, Inc.

The tribe said a completed government study in 2013 shows the project will not threaten Fairchild.

The study is one reason the City Council was reconsidering its position. Tribal leaders said there is no threat to Fairchild and their critics are worried about competition.

"Competition is good, you bring in competition, you bring in a healthy, competitive environment and in my opinion, that's what this country is built on,” said Evans.

Greater Spokane, Incorporated does not want to see the casino built anywhere near the base and hopes the tribe moves the project to another location.

Tribal leaders said that is not realistic and they have come too far in the process for the proposed spot in Airway Heights along Highway 2.

Fairchild Air Force Base has never directly commented on the impact the casino will have on its future.

The Spokane Tribe’s casino still needs federal approval. Once it gets that, the governor of Washington has a year to approve or reject the project.