Casino needs more time - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Casino needs more time

July 21, 2003

Dougherty County - There is at least a slight hope that the Radium Springs Casino could dodge the wrecking ball, but taxpayers may get hit with the cost. Dougherty County commissioners ask for a six-month extension on the demolition deadline.

A letter from the Georgia Congressional Delegation convinced county commissioners to ask GEMA to extend the December 31, 2003 demolition deadline. Even if GEMA approves the extension, an Act of Congress is still needed to save the Casino.

Mike Johnson, with the Casino Preservation Group, says Congressman Sanford Bishop plans to introduce an act to save the Casino soon. "Our lawmakers have overlooked the Casino issue in the past because they were justifiably preoccupied with the war and other issues," said Johnson. "But now, they have the time needed to address this important issue."

But, GEMA and FEMA must still agree to push back the demolition date to June 30, 2003. The demolition will likely cost about $100,000. If an Act of Congress doesn't come through, taxpayers will likely be left footing a hefty chuck of that bill.

State money, needed to pay for 25% of the demolition cost, expires in February. Taxpayers, many of whom have never set foot inside Casino, will then have to pick up that cost.

That's one reason Commissioner Art Searles voted against the extension request. "I understand that many residents consider this a cherished landmark, but I see it as a racial relic," said Searles. "But, that's not why I voted against the extension. We must protect the taxpayers' money. We just can't afford to gamble with this money."

But, casino supporters disagree. "I don't think we'll lose any money because we hope to have a decision from Capitol Hill long before the state money expires," said Johnson.

If Act of Congress isn't passed, the county would have to start the demolition process in February to finish before the June 30th deadline.

Posted at 4:20PM by kathryn.murchison@walb.com

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