CASINO CLASH: Residents Heated Over Proposal

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Wild Rose entertainment hopes to build a casino and convention complex near Norwalk. Plans call for building the facility between highway 28 and 50th Avenue, just south of Highway 5. In addition to the casino, the $145 million complex would include a 150 room hotel, an events center, and bowling alley.

Four public meetings were held on the proposal Thursday night in Warren County. At the gathering in Norwalk things got heated.

From the moment people walked in, there was confusion about what the meeting was about. Opponents of the casino came ready to share their point of view, but said they were told not to set their flyers out for the public.

Organizers said while these meetings are hosted by proponents of the casino, everyone was welcome.

While the "open house" format wasn't what everyone was expecting, it did give people a chance to have one-on-one conversations about the proposal, and address some main concerns.

“I’m worried about crime, I’m worried about drunk driving, and I’m worried about losing the feel Norwalk has today. Norwalk is very small town and family friendly. And people moved here for a reason,” said Erika Isley from Norwalk.

“Because I know the facts I’m a personal supporter in addition to supporting it professionally, but at the same time I understand and believe people have the right to disagree. We`re confident when people start to learn the facts the large majority of people will come around and support this project,” said Jason White, the executive director of the Warren County Economic Development Corp.

The referendum vote on allowing a casino in Warren County will take place on May 7th. The racing and gaming commission would then have to decide whether to issue a casino license.