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Angel of the Winds Casino triples in size
ARLINGTON News of the Angel of the Winds Casinos $44 million expansion has met with a muted response from the casinos critics, when compared to their initial outcry when the casino opened nearly four years ago.
The addition of more than 84,000 square feet to the casinos existing property represents their first major expansion for the property since opening in October of 2004, and marketing director Eric Larsen cited the benefits of tripling the casinos size.
Well be upping our slot machines from 535 to 1,000, Larsen said. Were adding a poker room, a keno lounge, a 150-seat full-service restaurant, a bar and a small stage.
In addition to a lounge with live entertainment and a gift shop, Larsen explained that the casino plans to expand its employee facilities, by adding offices, food storage and showers.
Were looking to add more than 250 new team members to our payroll, which will increase our staff to more than 500, Larsen said. The ground floor will be the main level that most of our guests will see, while the upper floor will be offices and the lower level will be for shipping, receiving and employee training.
So far, site work has included rerouting the water, electrical and sewer lines to accommodate the addition, and excavation of the lower level will begin within the week. Larsen expects the new employees will be hired throughout the year, with an especially heavy concentration of hirings during the summer, in time for the new addition of the casino to open its doors for business by the end of the year.
A lot of our layout will stay the same, Larsen said. What were doing is opening up more space so that our existing building isnt so tightly packed. Over the course of three years, weve added a lot of machines and a variety of games. A lot of our guests are worried that were going to change everything, but with slight upgrades, it should remain pretty close to the same product theyre used to.
To accommodate construction, the north side of the parking lot has been temporarily closed.
When asked about possible complaints from the casinos residential neighbors, Larsen stated that the casino has tried to be a good neighbor to residents.
Were cognizant of our location, so we try to be good stewards, Larsen said. We send our staff out to clean the roads on occasion and were not looking to turn ourselves into a destination for loud concerts. When the surrounding area has had power outages, weve opened our doors. We could have written it off as a business interruption, but we gave meals away.
Janice Rhodes, who lives in the Seymour Country Estates one block south of the casinos entrance, harbors a different view of the casinos presence in the community, but she wonders if their impact might be an inevitability.
My husband and I have lived here for 10 years, Rhodes said. We were involved in the No Dice group when it started, and we walked miles to distribute petitions, attend meetings and work toward peaceful change. Its been difficult working with the state, county and local offices, because of the Stillaguamish Tribes sovereign status. When they were preparing to conduct burns to get the land ready, we were first told that theyd be fined, but then told that, because of their sovereign status, they wouldnt even have to pay.
Rhodes cited the impact of wooded areas being cut down and large light-poles being installed, on both wildlife and property, while lamenting the influx of traffic.
It used to be that youd seldom even see cars in this area, Rhodes said. Now, there are literally lines of them, and not signaling is very common among them. As for those giant signs on the side of the road, theyre an abomination. Theyre so tall and bright that they change the whole look of the countryside.
Rhodes hesitates to sell her property, because she doesnt want it to be purchased by the Tribe, especially since many of her fellow No Dice members sold their properties to the Tribe.
Most of the people who worked on No Dice had no bad feelings toward the Tribe, Rhodes said. Its not them versus us. Its the idea of the casino that we have a problem with, but there seems to be no stopping it. It just keeps getting bigger.
At this point, Ive said all I can say about the casino, said Ken Childress, former head of No Dice, who moved away from the neighborhoods surrounding the casino a couple of months ago. Its a moot point anymore.