The Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe recently announced plans for an expansion of The Point Casino. Four years in the making, we’ve purposely taken our time with these plans to make sure we got it right.
While we have been working toward the goal of expanding the casino, we have been publicly voicing our support for the cleanup and protection of Port Gamble Bay and conservation of surrounding lands. Protection of the bay is priority one for our tribe, which has harvested from and called the bay home for thousands of years.
We won’t consider building on the shores of Port Gamble Bay. While a casino or other establishment would undoubtedly be a tourist draw, the short-term financial gain would not be worth what our community would ultimately lose from impacts of development. That’s why when we originally built The Point Casino we chose to place it more than a mile away from the bay and why we’ve felt compelled to oppose other developments on or near its shores.
We support economic development. Like any government responsible for providing essential services, revenue is a necessity to support our members. Every decision we make, however, must be carefully aligned with our goals for environmental stewardship. In addition, we have a limited land base and must plan development in a responsible and prudent manner. As a matter of practice, we don’t consider projects that would intrude into environmentally sensitive areas that would impact natural resources. One method we employ is to build within previously developed areas and to incorporate low- impact development techniques.
This brings us to the casino expansion, which is being built on a portion of the current parking lot with some of the existing structures being repurposed. This will prevent the need for new roads, utilities or expansive clearcutting. All of the plans for this project have undergone rigorous review for environmental and cultural impacts according to processes outlined in the tribe’s Cultural Resources and Environmental Review policies. We ensured that the project is not located near stream, creek, floodplain, wetland, pond or shoreline areas and that no listed species or critical habitats will be impacted.
The project will utilize low-impact development techniques, such as biofiltration swales, vegetation buffers, retention ponds and other mechanisms for infiltrating stormwater runoff from the site. Stormwater mitigation was achieved in accordance with best management techniques identified by the Washington state Department of Ecology. The wastewater system has been designed by Washington state-licensed engineers to meet or exceed state standards. Any oil or other vehicle contaminants from parking areas will be filtered through landscaping and grass-lined swales.
We understand that community concerns go further than just the environment: a traffic analysis for Hansville Road is complete and we are working with the Public Works Department on improvements to minimize congestion. In addition, the expansion will be a “Sprung” structure; a highly efficient building that produces minimal construction waste and has an expected 30-year lifespan. After construction, the entire site will be landscaped with native plants to blend in with the surrounding area.
On Sept. 28 from 6-7:30 p.m. in our Longhouse, we’ll be holding an open house to discuss the expansion. We want to give you an opportunity to review our plans and voice your thoughts or questions.
An expansion of The Point Casino is an important economic step for our tribe. We want to assure you, though, that economics do not trump our continued dedication to the protection of our natural resources, including Port Gamble Bay.
We will continue to work with our partners on this important initiative.