OUR VIEW: Oacoma board right to ask questions
The town of Oacoma is not yet ready to give its support to a proposed American Indian casino that would be built on the town's doorstep.
During a meeting Monday evening, the board decided it cannot yet give its support for the proposal, which is being pursued by its neighbors to the north, the Lower Brule Sioux Tribe.
The tribe already has a casino, located along the Missouri River and on the Lower Brule Reservation, about 20 miles north of Interstate 90. But the tribe has some trust land outside of its reservation, and that land is adjacent to I-90 and right on the outskirts of Oacoma.
The tribe is in the midst of clearing legal hurdles before it can proceed. That's where things are now, with the tribe waiting for an opinion from the Oacoma town board and other entities who are allowed to express their opinion to the U.S. secretary of the interior.
Monday night, the board concluded it isn't ready to support the project, since board members feel the tribe has not yet presented all of the necessary information. For instance, how much will the project affect the town's water system? How will the rest of the town's infrastructure be affected?
The tribe is apparently gathering that information through an environmental assessment.
The town board's members have declined to jump on board, and for now, we don't blame them.
We do appreciate that these talks seem to be cordial. And it appears members from both sides -- the town board and the tribe -- continue to be interested in open and honest discussions.
It's hard to decide whether the proposed casino will be a great boon or an incredible burden to Oacoma, which lies across the river from Chamberlain and is home to 451 residents. Perhaps the casino will indeed be too much for the town's infrastructure to handle. On the flip side, it's entirely possible the proposed casino will bring thousands of people to town and result in growth -- and possibly even prosperity -- for the community, which would ultimately pay for the needed infrastructure improvements.
We completely understand the board's hesitance to jump on board, since the future of the town truly could be at stake.
Again, it could be a boon or a burden. If it's built, only time will tell.
In the meantime, we encourage residents of Oacoma to ask a lot of hard questions and expect thorough answers before lending support to the tribe's proposal. We also encourage the tribe to understand why the town is so hesitant to give its approval.