Ranchos residents worry about slot operation
About 80 people came to the Wednesday night meeting of the Gardnerville Ranchos General Improvement District to seek advice from the representatives on how to stop a slot operation planned to replace the now closed Gorman’s grocery store.
Ranchos resident Norman Svensrud was the first to speak to the board during public comment. The issue was not on the agenda and the board could not take action. Svensrud introduced himself and his wife as the organizer of a petition drive that already had more than 200 signatures stating opposition to a slot operation in their neighborhood.
“And I think we’ve barely scratched the surface,” he said, holding up the thick stack of paper.
“Our major concern is that we feel that is not an appropriate place for a large-scale gambling facility in a residential neighborhood. We’d like to see some other business that would be of service to the community,” Svensrud said.
Dennis Le Drew read from a letter he wrote to the trustees.
“There is no doubt in my mind that our residents are deeply regretting the closing of Gorman’s supermarket. There is also absolutely no doubt in my mind that the last thing the residents of the Ranchos need, as a business to replace Gorman’s, is a high volume, or for that matter, any type of gaming facility,” Le Drew said.
Letty Ramos said the families in the area wanted a recreational area for their children, rather than a slot operation.
No one at the meeting spoke in favor of the slot operation, but business owners in the Tillman Center said they were not upset at the idea.
“We’re looking for anything to go in there that will increase business. It needs something. This is a nice mall, I’d hate to see it be empty,” said Syd Raper, co-owner of R&T Cleaners. “To tell you the truth, a lot of the little old ladies that come in here are thrilled.”
Two members of the board encouraged those in opposition to the slot operation to express that to the county planning commission, which is the first place a business would have to go to get a zone change for the area of the Tillman Center.
The zoning would have to be changed from neighborhood commercial to tourist commercial and the Douglas County Commission would have the final say-so. According to county Assistant Planner Lee Plemel, the planning commission would first hear the application for zone change at the Dec. 14 meeting. The Douglas County Commissioners will consider the planning commission’s suggestion Jan. 6.
Friday morning, members of Park Cattle Co., which owns the Tillman Center, and the Carson Valley Inn, which is planning to lease the Gorman’s store for a small slot slot operation and eatery, said they both feel the slot operation will be a positive for the area.
Bruce Park said they have exhausted the possibility of moving in another grocery store.
“We’ve made every effort and called every major grocery storeand no one is interested. We’d jump at the chance, but being that Gorman’s has closed its doors, and we don’t want to see plywood on the windows, the time had come to make a choice,” Park said.
Bill Henderson, director of sales and marketing, and Steve Chappell, director of finance of CVI, said rumors have spread quickly that make the slot operation larger than planned.
The slot operation will have between 150-200 slot machines with a deli, a bar and a lounge area to sit and eat a meal.
“We are looking to fit into the neighborhood. We are not going to bring in bus traffic into the neighborhood. We will cater solely to the local residents,” Chappell said.
Henderson and Park both said the business has no interest in bringing in a project that will decrease the image of the neighborhood.
“Park doesn’t anticipate putting anything in there but a first-class establishment. We don’t want junk on our shopping center. They’re not going to put in something that will downgrade the center,” Park said.
Chappell said CVI anticipates the slot operation will bring in between $35,000 to $40,000 in gaming tax to the county and 30 and 40 jobs.
“Also, hopefully, it will help bring Tillman Center to 100 percent occupancy, which will also increase taxes for the county,” Henderson said. “If it is all full, there are benefits there we can’t measure.”
However, Chappell said, CVI will not fight to save the idea of a slot operation in the neighborhood if it doesn’t fit in.
“We will not aggressively fight for it. It will have to pass or fail on its own merits. Our job is to educate the public on the benefits and not try to sway their beliefs in any way,” Chappell said.