Tribes weigh in on proposed Medford casino

MEDFORD, Ore. —City of Medford officials are sharing more about what the proposed Coquille Tribe’s casino could look like in the city.  We’re hearing from the local tribe behind the plan and another against it.

The proposed casino would be on 2.4 acres off south Pacific Highway at Roxy Ann Lanes in south Medford. The Bureau of Indian Affairs has come out with a 250-page Environmental Impact Statement on the development.

City Attorney Eric Mitton summarized the impact statement along with different alternatives highlighted Thursday night for city council.

“This isn’t a final action this isn’t a vote, there are no final decisions being made tonight this is an opportunity for you to have a summary of what we’re looking at responding with,” said Mitton.

The alternatives include a casino located on an undeveloped property in Phoenix, an expansion of the existing north Bend casino and no additional casino development. Mitton says the Phoenix option is a greenfield development east of I-5, north of Phoenix.

“The Coquille Tribe raises concerns about it being a more expensive development proposal than option a because they are not converting an existing building, they’d be building a new building and they don’t own the land where it would be,” said Mitton.

Members of the Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Tribe of Indians and the Coquille Tribe were in the room and listened in on the study session. A Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Tribe of Indians council member says she believes the new Coquille casino will negatively impact its casino and others in the region.

“Studies have shown it’s going to have a major hit on our casino and other tribal casinos in the vicinity so we’re very concerned for the future health of our tribe and how we’re going to support our people,” said Jessica Bochart-Leusch with Cow Creek.

A spokesperson for the Coquille Tribe says competition in the market isn’t a bad thing, and the project will benefit the community more than anything.

“Look at what the Coquille Tribe have done how they have invested in this community look at the jobs they have brought and the jobs they will bring and most importantly keep an open mind and listen to the facts,” said Greg Lemhouse, Coquille spokesperson.

You can find the environmental impact statement draft here.

Here’s how you can submit your comments on the environmental impact. Send your emails to [email protected]

Be sure to put DEIS comments coquille tribe Medford Gaming Facility Project in the subject line. Comments must be submitted within 45 days after the EPA publishes its notice of availability in the federal register.

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Jenna King is the 6pm anchor and our Feature Reporter at 10pm and 11pm for NBC5 News. Jenna is a Burbank, CA native. She graduated from the University of Oregon with a degree in Broadcast Journalism and a minor in Sports Business. During her time at Oregon she was part of the student-run television station, Duck TV. She also grew her passion for sports through her internship with the PAC 12 Network. When Jenna is not in the newsroom you can find her rooting for her hometown Dodgers, exploring the outdoors or binging on the latest Netflix release.
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