RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Protests grow in two Richmond neighborhoods where casino projects are being considered. But in one location, neighbors believe there may be graves where the project is proposed.
Dozens of Stratford Hills residents lined Forest Hill Avenue Tuesday afternoon, holding signs reading “no casino,” and “don’t bet on it.”
“We don’t need it in our city. I love this city, I’ve been here for 40 some years and I wanted to stay the way it is,” Jeanne Walls said, a Stratford Hills resident at Tuesday’s protest.
Residents protest the proposed casino and hotel plans from the Bally’s Corporation; one of three finalists in Richmond in the race to build a a new betting hub.
“Not here, not there, no casino anywhere,” the crowd chanted
Among uncertainties, impact to traffic and the environment.
“Transformation, not greed,” Angela Worris chanted while beating a drum.
Longtime neighborhood resident Karen Barry asked, “who knows what will happen after hours? That’s a real concern.”
“How many people will come, attendance, revenues, state tax, local tax; all those revenue numbers are guesses,” Butch Sarma contended.
After releasing a plan to mitigate potential traffic, Bally’s said they listened to the community and they are confident there won’t be any impact to adjacent neighborhoods.
As for the 61-acre project site, nearby landowner Jason Hasse said there may be an African American burial site within the perimeter.
Hasse has long-studied the genealogy of the area. He says land in and around the proposed project was once home to community of freed slaves, noting that historical records helped him find eight cemeteries within a quarter mile radius.
“There is a responsibility that we all have to honor the freed African-Americans in the burials, and the extended community. And, I would like for balance to become the aware that there is a home site that there is potential graves,” Hasse told 8News.
A project manager for Bally’s responded, saying they reviewed a cemetery deed for a property north of the casino site.
The road ahead for three casino projects will be tested over the coming months.
Two other proposals for casinos are competing for slots in Scott’s Addition and Southside near the Phillip Morris plant. Residents in Scott’s Addition have been vocal about their opposition to a casino in their neighborhood.
In a virtual meeting last week, one concern that was brought up was Scott’s Addition’s ability to handle the traffic and parking brought in by a casino.
No matter which proposal is favored by city council, there will be a public referendum this November to approve or deny a casino.