Work on Rohnert Park casino could start this summer

Work could start this summer on a $433 million Indian casino and resort project planned for the outskirts of Rohnert Park.

That delights labor leaders, who say the tribe has committed to using union workers. And it increases pressure on casino opponents, who are mounting last-ditch efforts to stall it.

The work timeline is laid out in financial documents of Station Casinos, a Las Vegas casino company bankrolling the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria project. The tribe plans to build a 200-room hotel and casino with up to 3,000 slot machines at the Wilfred Avenue site.

"We currently estimate that construction ... will begin after financing for the project has been obtained, which we anticipate to be during the summer of 2012," the company said in a report to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

"That's amazing. The sooner the better," said Lisa Maldonado, executive director of the North Bay Labor Council.

"The unemployment in construction right now is huge and being able to put people back to work is going to be a boon to Rohnert Park and the whole region," she said.

But casino opponents, who have long argued the impact will be wholly negative, say they will push for legislative hearings and are planning legal action.

"What happens now is we try to mobilize the state Legislature and convince them why this is a bad idea for California and for Rohnert Park," said Marilee Montgomery, an organizer with Stop the Casino 101, a coalition of opponents of the project.

"We have every chance of being able to delay construction with a lawsuit" challenging the environmental impact study done for the project, she added.

Graton Rancheria tribal chairman Greg Sarris did not respond to phone calls and an email seeking comment Monday.

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