No update for MOU planned between RP, Graton tribe
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By Jud Snyder  November 2, 2012 12:00 am

As of Oct. 26, the Memorandum Of Understanding (MOU) between the City of Rohnert Park and the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria is still holding firm. The original pact was signed Oct. 14, 2003, nine years and two weeks ago.

Darrin Jenkins, city engineer and director of development services said, “It wouldn’t do any harm to update it, but I have heard nothing in that direction.”

No one at FIGR, including Greg Sarris, tribe chairman, has commented on any wording in the MOU. It was signed by Carl Leivo, then RP City Manager, Betsy Strauss, then the City Attorney, Greg Sarris and John Maier, attorney with California Indian Legal Services.

RP’s City Council voted 4-1 to approve the MOU in a tumultuous public hearing held in Spreckels Performing Arts Center. Councilman Jake Mackenzie cast the only dissenting vote. He’s currently RP mayor and will step down as mayor in January to serve on the council for another four years.

The resulting agreement with the Graton tribe nine years ago triggered a recall election aimed at council members Amie Breeze and Armando Flores. But the recall attempt failed. The other two city council members were Greg Nordin and Vicki Vidak-Martinez.

The MOU itself is 28 pages long, and 21 of the pages are the mitigation and impact payments the tribe will make to the city and the school district. It’s written single-spaced with a strong legalese flavor. Some of the payments have already been made, but the majority of them won’t be made until after the casino opens its doors for gambling fans. Only opening date so far is November 2013, dependent on weather conditions, negotiations with building trade unions and other factors.

Here are a few highlights of FIGR contributions:
• Development fees - $2.664 million
• Street improvements - $1.750 million
• New Public Safety building on west side - $2,250 million.
• New fire truck - $350,000
• Fund to prevent gang wars -$500,000 annually
• To school district - $1,000.000 annually for educational trust fund
• Charitable Trust Fund - $2,000,000
• Workforce Housing - $1,000,000 annually
• Storm water drainage - $50,000
• Open Space fund - $2.700,000

The MOU also included an on-site wastewater treatment plant on casino property, but FIGR contracted with Rohnert Park to take over this responsibility. Wastewater will be piped to be treated in the regional plant on Llano Road, owned by the City of Santa Rosa and thence up to The Geysers.

Casino officials still have plans to dig two 600-foot wells for their customers. The freshwater wells will have an impact on nearby rural wells, and methods to mitigate this impact are still being studied.

There are other contributions in the MOU to ease traffic on RP Expressway and a donation to Rancho Verde Mobile Home Park. Some of the items cited are no longer on the city’s General Plan, such as a crossing over 101 connecting State Farm Drive and Business Park Drive.

The tribe has already pledged to cover widening Wilfred Avenue/Golf Course Drive West, Labath Avenue and Business Park Drive. Wilfred Avenue will be improved all the way to Stony Point Road.

Copies of the complete MOU can probably be found on Rohnert Park’s Web site,

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