SONOMA COUNTY (KPIX 5) – There is suddenly a plan for a new casino in Sonoma County. While it's coming as a shock to neighbors, it is a long-awaited opportunity for the tribe.
"Quite honestly, this is the very first time that I've set foot on this trade trail, as we are speaking right now," Dino Beltran, Vice Chairman of the Koi Nation told KPIX 5 on Thursday. "So it's a little surreal, and it's beautiful. It's a beautiful feeling."
As one of about 90 members of the Koi Nation, Beltran now owns the land his ancestors walked as a trade trail from Clearlake to Bodega Bay.
"This is the first time in 150 years that a Koi person has owned land as a tribe," he explained.
The tribe now plans to turn this 68 acres of land into a resort, with a 200-room hotel, spa, restaurants, meeting space and casino gaming. The land sits in Sonoma County, but it will exist as the Koi Nation's sovereign base. It's also right across the street from the edge of Windsor.
"How would you feel if you were in this house and then you were going to look over there and see, you know, big lights, bus full of people, a four-lane highway?" asked neighbor Kim Edwards. "Not to mention the construction. No, we're devastated."
"Yeah, I mean that's why we moved here," explained Mary, another resident of Windsor. "It's gorgeous. Instead, we're going to be looking at hotels, I guess it's going to look something like the Graton casino."
"I think that the size is not going to be invasive," says Tribal Chairman Darin Beltran. "The traffic will probably be less than it is at other giant casinos."
News of the plan is barely 24 hours old, and a lot of neighbors told us they are still a bit stunned. A public comment period is just getting underway.
"The Indians, I don't begrudge them anything," Edwards says. "I just feel like this is the wrong place for what they want to do."
"You know, we are from this community," said Darin Beltran. "This is where we've lived, we've gone to school, our kids have gone to school here. Yeah, this is our home, so we definitely don't want to offend or trample on anybody that lives in this area."
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