Hale sees E-Zone on RP’s northwest corner
Entertainment complex to follow model of Branson, Mo., with no gambling in the plan
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By Jud Snyder  November 15, 2013 12:00 am

Yes indeed, right up front it merited further investigation. We got a letter to the editor mentioning my name, and it appeared in The Voice’s Nov. 1 issue. 

The writer is Dennis “Lucky” Hale, and he’s got a project he calls  “Rohnert Park E-Zone, the New Spot for Fun.”

It’s multi-acreage and sits across Golf Course Drive West from the Graton Resort & Casino. It extends north and south from there inside RP’s Northwest Specific Plan.

This E-Zone will have eight theaters and two museums, a transit hub to connect with the railroad, free parking and terraced open space acreage next to the casino.

For pertinent details, go online to www.rohnertparke-zonevpweb.com or simply Google E-Zone, The spot for fun, or Dennis”Lucky”Hale@gmail.com. Or contact Dennis Hale by mail at P.O. Box 7641, Cotati CA 93931.

Spent 40 years in show biz

Born and raised in Hartford, Conn., Hale, an articulate spokesman in, say, his mid-50s or early 60s, absolutely reeks show business. 

“I spent 40 years in the entertainment business, managed Circus Vargas, got into radio announcing and when Circus Vargas sent me to Petaluma to do some advance promotion, decided to stay here,” Hale said.

“I was publicist for the Ink Spots, among other ventures, estimated I had about 79 publicity jobs in Marin and Sonoma counties. When the casino first got started 10 years ago, I got the idea of an 

entertainment center for Rohnert Park. Been working on it ever since.”

He has a table-top, three dimensional layout of his E-Zone for Rohnert Park in his home, which he can pack up and display to clubs like Rotary and even to RP city hall managers. The reaction was praise for his idea, but it’s a hard concept to grasp just by looking. It’s going to be a hard sell. But if he succeeds, it will make Rohnert Park the Entertainment Capital of the North Bay.

‘Make RP a destination city’

“It’s modeled after Branson, Mo., where they have many theaters and clubs in this small city in the middle of the Bible Belt,” Hale said. “The nearest big city is Little Rock in Arkansas. If you want alcohol, you have to buy it by the bottle. But it gets tourists by the thousands.

“I want to make Rohnert Park a destination city. The city needs a concept, not just another big department store like Nordstrom’s. My E-Zone will have no fancy restaurants, no hotels, no slot machines, no black jack or poker tables, just family fun,” he emphasized. “I’ve already gotten queries from developers and lawyers. Most of them realize this city needs a different way of looking at the future. 

‘Slot machines not entertainment’

“There’s no industry in the city, just the casino outside of town. With my E-Zone, I’m bringing in an industry based on entertainment. I don’t consider playing slot machines entertainment.”

Hale is fully aware of the musical talents  here in Sonoma County. “We have jazz groups, folk music, bluegrass, all sorts of country-western talent, classical music, ethnic music from Hispanics and Asians. They all need clubs and stages to perform. The E-Zone can provide them.”

His plans include not only eight clubs plus an outdoor stage for musical groups, but a moving sidewalk for easy access, a waterfall for visual attraction and a visitors center to lure first time tourists.

‘I love playing long shots’

He admits it’ll be a tough sell to put across his E-Zone complex. “Look, I love playing long shots. After all, I’ve been married three times.” He’s owned his current home in B Section near Waldo Rohnert for 10 years. It also shelters two friendly tail-wagging dogs.

“I need someone to embrace this project and help me promote it. Now we have a casino and I think the city’s missing the boat to do more, they’re not getting the brass ring on this next merry-go-round.

“Branson has set the example. It can be done here. I’ve had success with my Blue Monday Festivals, but now this E-Zone is much bigger.”

 

Post Your Comments:
Justin
November 19, 2013
I don't think the residents of Rohnert Park want to see a "Branson Missouri" in their beloved city. A casino is enough to swallow for now. I, for one, hope this never materializes.
Karen
November 18, 2013
This is exactly what Rohnert Park does not need. This is a rural farming area with vineyards and cows in the pastures; and that's the way we want to keep it. If people want to see Branson, Missouri, then go to Branson, Missouri. This guy needs to spend his money some other way.
Marilee Montgomery
November 18, 2013
Is Mr. Hale on crack? There are so many things wrong with his "plan", there isn't enough room here to enumerate them. He says, " no slot machines, no black jack or poker tables". well, of course it won't He's not an Indian tribe. He can't have those things even if he wanted them. And good luck getting the traffic to work (hint: it won't, because of the casino). The project he has in mind will just attract too much traffic to an already overloaded Highway 101. I'm not sure if its compliant with the General Plan, but he should be mindful that the entire area out there is critical habitat for a highly-endangered species. Any developer is going to have to deal with that and I suspect that local environmental organizations would get involved Sierra Club fought the Walmart grocery store, after all). Then there's the fact that Branson is tacky. Tacky beyond belief, in fact. I'm not sure if the residents of Rohnert Park would welcome this kind of kitsch into their community.
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