Casino plans cause controversy among GT Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians council
LEELANAU COUNTY, Mich., (WPBN/WGTU) -- A new six-story hotel and casino with the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians is set to break ground in Leelanau County this spring, but some of the tribe’s council members aren’t supportive of the plan.
After a four to three vote… the band is looking at starting a new $50 million project - a six-story, waterfront casino and hotel in Peshawbetown.
Currently, the band has the Leelanau Sands Casino and Lodge, but some council members voted it’s time for an upgrade.
“It's not just the gaming market it's the whole peninsula market,” said Tom Shomis, tribal councilor. “There's not many rooms here on the Leelanau peninsula, but the peninsula itself is growing a diverse economy and we want to be a part of that.”
The band says this project has been talked about for thirty years, an idea they believe will bring more traffic to Peshawbetown and create opportunities for economic growth.
But not everyone in the band agrees.
I'm not sure that we okayed all of the plans,” said Thurlow "Sam" McClellan, band chairman. “There's a lot of problems that are involved in this. A lot of areas that we have yet to shore up on, including our finances.”
The band’s council chairman says this project is just an election ploy.
“These people that are proposing it are the ones that are running for office, so I said it's an election ploy,” said Thurlow. “They are looking for votes. I'm not against looking at having a new casino out here, but I think that we totally need to relook at the numbers because they are not adding up.”
“Somone who would say that this is an election ploy is probably someone who is maybe in a recall themselves,” said Shomin. “I'm excited to be a part of this and I’m really happy that we are moving forward because I believe this will be something that will help our community for the next generation.”
Shomin says, they've already hired contractors and are working on infrastructure.
According to the band’s council members, if this new hotel and casino is built the Leelanau Sands Casino and Lodge will most likely be closed down.