Neighbors React to Proposed Casino Location

By Jill Kasparie, Reporter

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - Some are ready to roll out the welcome mats, but others don't want anything to do with a casino in the Time Check neighborhood.

Monday investors announced a plan to build a casino near downtown Cedar Rapids. That can only happen if Linn County voters approve gambling and the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission grants a gaming license.

The investors call the 21 acre area the "Riverfront" location. Right now, the city owns most of the land. Investors said the casino could occupy six to ten acres of this highlighted area.

Much of land used to be the home of flood-damaged properties, which have been torn down since the flood. People living on the west side of the Cedar River are no strangers to changes in the neighborhood.

"There are like six houses occupied on this block," said Home owner David Steele.

After the flood, many left the area.

Steele is against a casino going up in the empty spaces by his house. He said time are tough, and he doesn't want to see a new casino in the area for people to throw away their money.

"I don't really see how a casino would really benefit anyone living here in the neighborhood other than your car might get broken into or something," Steele said.

A few blocks away at the Cooper's Mill restaurant, supervisors are looking forward to the potential of new customers filling the dining room.

"We usually have one server a couple nights out of the week, so maybe a few more employees but we won't turn them (extra customers) down," said Cooper's Mill Supervisor Megan Oxley.

It's been a hot topic all over the northwest neighborhood. Bar owners who own establishments near the river gather every Tuesday night. They talk about events, business and, lately, the casino.

"Some of us are for; some of us are against," said Owner of Double Inn Lounge Mike Cornwell.

Cornwell said he believes people will leave his sports bar for the lure of cheap food and drinks at the casino and won't come back.

"They can go down there and smoke all they want. Why come back to the bar if you are smoker when you can smoke there," Cornwell said.

The owner of Cedar River Landing doesn't agree. He said if the project moves forward he thinks the casino will create quite a business boost.

"There is no neighborhood, so we don't have anyone come here anymore," said Owner of Cedar River Landing Scott Pinter Scott Pinter. "We are always trying to come up with new ideas, trying to get people to come down here, and I just feel any new businesses would help that all the way around."

Northwest Neighbors Neighborhood Association Vice President Al Pierson said the organization doesn't take an official stance on politics or issues, but Pierson said he thinks it would help revive the neighborhood.
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