Thursday, October 20, 2011

It's an Election Year and Bay Mills Chairman Jeff Parker Wants Constituents to See Him as Good for the Economy both on and off Reservation


By Kayla Habermehl
FLINT TOWNSHIP, Michigan — Although still fighting a legal battle about whether a northern Michigan gaming facility is on "Indian land," the Bay Mills Indian Community chairman told a gathering of area businesses he believes a Flint Township casino will be a reality.

Jeff Parker, chairman of the executive committee for Bay Mills, spoke during the West Flint Business Association's monthly luncheon today in Flint Township. The potential facility is expected to be about 200,000 square feet, half of which would be gaming space, and could bring about 700 jobs to the area, Parker said.

Although the casino would be the "hub," Parker said Bay Mills planned to have the surrounding businesses by owned by area residents.

Many of the jobs would be minimum wage and the majority would be filled by area residents, he said.

Parker also said the tribe's attorneys were filing a motion today and three more Friday to dismiss a lawsuit that shut down Bay Mills' Vanderbilt facility earlier this year.

“We believe we’ve covered all the bases and we can go forward,” Parker said of the legality of the Vanderbilt facility.

Bay Mills purchased 28 acres in December at the northeast corner of Lennon and Dutcher roads in Flint Township.

Earlier this year, Bay Mills appealed a federal judge's ruling that forced the tribe to close a small casino in Vanderbilt, a slots-only gaming operation north of Gaylord, Mich. that opened without traditional approvals in place.

The lawsuit was filled by the state attorney general and the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians. They claimed the casino was illegal and running without necessary approvals.

Parker also planned to meet with township officials today to begin discussions about contracting for services such as police and fire. Called a payment in lieu of taxes, it would provide 2 percent of Bay Mills gross profits from the Flint Township facility to the township, Parker said.

He estimated it could result in between $2 million and $4 million for the township.

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