Public invited Saturday, April 15 to walk casino site
TIVERTON — The public will get a chance on Saturday, April 15 at 1 p.m.. to walk the site of the proposed Tiverton casino, guided by Twin River casino officials, and in the company of the Tiverton Planning Board, which is conducting an official site visit of the property.
"This is a public meeting of the planning board," said board chairman Stu Hardy at the group's meeting on April 4.
The visit is part of the board's overall review of the project. "I would like to do it this month before it gets too buggy and before the foliage is out," Mr. Hardy said.
Although members of the public are invited to accompany the touring planning board members, "there will have to be some rules so we don't violate open meeting laws," said Kelley Morris, the planning board's solicitor.
Those interested in participating in the site visit will be asked to park their cars on or near the triangular parking lot at the junction of Stafford Road and William S. Canning Boulevard. Mr. Hardy said Twin River casino staff was expected to contact businesses in the area to facilitate parking for the occasion.
The walk into the site from the parking area is largely undeveloped, being cleared, and traversed by trucks, so those attending are advised to dress accordingly.
Cultural, archaeological resources
Likely to be unresolved — for a while at least — is the presence or absence of cultural or archaeological resources at the site, and what effect they may have on development plans.
As required by law, the Rhode Island Historical Preservation & Heritage Commission (RIHPHC) has weighed in, with an opinion letter dated March 23 from Executive Director Edward F. Sanderson.
"We would like to note that the larger project area, including the future access road and proposed round-about, as well as the footprint and associated utilities of the casino buildings, has the potential to be a sensitive area from both Native American and post-contact archaeological sites," Mr. Sanderson wrote.
The sites could include, he said, stone walls and a network of walls on the site, 19th and 20th century farmsteads, and one from the 18th century "in the property's central area, near the proposed casino building."
The property's western area "may contain archaeological materials associated with the July 18, 1675 Battle of Pocasset," a military engagement in King Philip's War.
Mark Russo, the Twin River casino representative present, said Twin River has retained a consulting archaeologist, is meeting with state officials, and is taking responsibility for the surveying and handling of archaeological resources.
Casino site preparation will include blasting, planning board members learned April 4. Twin River representatives said they had no idea how many blasts would be required, because at this time "we don't have any idea how much rock we'll have to deal with."
A blasting plan has yet to be developed, the representatives said.
Representatives gave assurances that various permits and approvals from officials would be obtained —e.g. from the state fire marshal, from the town council — and that fire and police officials would be notified.
Outreach will start soon, the representatives said.
Although state law requires notifications to neighbors up to 500 feet, Twin River said it will notify people up to 1,000 feet away. Seismographs, videotaping, and dust controls will be used, they said, and blasting will occur only with 24 hour notice and between the hours of 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., once per day only.
Casino leads board agenda
Except for the April 26 meeting, at which a proposed solar ordinance for the town is expected to be on the agenda, the planning board announced April 4 that two May meetings will be given over to casino-related business.
On May 2 at 7 p.m. (and on another later date to be determined), the planning board intends to address seven major issues: 1) site layout and utilities, 2) the environment, 3) historical and archaeological, 4) architecture, lighting and landscaping, 5) vehicles, access and traffic, 6) water and wastewater, and 7) other remaining issues