Evaluation Panel gives community update on casino proposal feedback

Richmond

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC)— The City of Richmond is weighing three choices in their efforts to get a resort casino built in the city. The prospects of having a casino within the city limits is drawing concern from residents, who eventually will have the final say on a casino’s approval via referendum.

The city’s Evaluation Panel held a meeting Friday to present all of the feedback they’ve received about a casino possibly coming to the area. Maritza Pechin, a member of the panel and Manager of the Office of Equitable Development, said the panel is working hard to review all of the residents’ questions and reservations.

“The evaluation panel is taking its job very, very seriously in reviewing all of the different facets including very importantly community input,” Pechin said.

The panel compiled information on the top three proposals, including what residents think the casino’s strengths and weaknesses are.

“We have heard neighborhoods’ concerns,” Pechin said.

Over 1,000 people submitted feedback to the panel.

Some of resident’s overall concerns were about traffic, decreased property values, crime and safety, and harm to local businesses. Others thought the casinos would create jobs and bring in revenue to the city, therefore benefitting Richmond Public Schools and road improvements.

The panel evaluates each proposal with five categories: feasibility and sustainability, location, community benefits, adverse impacts and financial and economic benefits.

Sharon Ebert, another panel member and DCAO for Economic and Community Development, said the three casinos could amend their proposal to address community concerns.

“Our charge before us is to get the best deal that we can have,” she said.

In May, the evaluation panel will give their recommendation. The Richmond City Council will vote on a resolution to petition the courts for putting a referendum on the ballot, so the public can vote on it in November.

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