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Aug. 7, 2022

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Cowlitz schedule forum on casino, water plant, road work

By , Columbian City Government Reporter

The Cowlitz Project is launching a series of community forums to share information about the development of the Cowlitz Tribe’s $510 million casino resort, a $32 million improvement project for the nearby Exit 16 interchange on Interstate 5 to handle additional traffic, and construction of a $15 million water reclamation plant.

The first forum, which will provide a project update and an overview of the water reclamation plant, will be June 30 at La Center Community Center, 1000 E. Fourth St., La Center. There will be two sessions: one from 5 to 6:30 p.m. and another from 7 to 8:30 p.m.

Presenters will include:

• Kara Fox-LaRose, president and general manager of the Cowlitz Project.

• William Iyall, chairman of the Cowlitz Indian Tribe.

• Mike Ollivant, Parametrix, water reclamation system lead engineer.

Dates and times of future forums about the casino and interchange will be announced later.

The Cowlitz Tribe faces opposition from multiple fronts on various facets of its overall project, starting with those who don’t want a casino in the area because it would compete with La Center’s cardrooms and put a strain on schools and housing.

The tribe’s plans to build a facility to treat the casino’s wastewater has been controversial because the water reclamation project involves drilling injection wells into the ground above the Troutdale Aquifer that supplies Clark County’s water.

Clark County has posted “stop work” orders on the project, but the tribe has ignored them, saying the county has no jurisdiction over the 152-acre Cowlitz Reservation. The tribe had hoped to hook up to the city of La Center’s sewage treatment plant, but because the casino lies just beyond the city’s urban growth boundary, the move is prohibited by county regulations.

Meanwhile, the county and others have been waging a court battle over whether the federal government should have granted the Cowlitz a reservation in the first place. Although a ruling in the case isn’t expected until this summer, the Cowlitz began building the casino early this year with the expectation the tribe will prevail.

Featuring a 100,000-square-foot gaming floor, meeting facilities and 15 different restaurants, bars and retail shops, the casino is scheduled to open sometime next year.

Columbian City Government Reporter

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