Casino San Pablo Facelift to Feature Outdoor Sculpture, Better Parking

From the Contra Costa Times - August 27, 2011

"The tribe decided that they wanted to create something that was aesthetically more beautiful than what existed there before," Elmets said.

"It's aesthetic, for the benefit of the community and the guests," Elmets said, adding that the project is creating more than 100 jobs during construction.

 

 

Casino San Pablo is getting an exterior makeover that is supposed to make it more attractive and provide safer and more convenient parking, says a spokesman for the tribe that owns the thriving gambling hall that accounts for more than half the city's general fund.

The fountain in front of the casino has been demolished and will be replaced with a kinetic sculpture. Parking spaces for handicapped customers will be added, and better lighting will make parking safer for everybody, said Doug Elmets, speaking for the Lytton Band of Pomo Indians. No work is being done to the interior of the casino.

"The tribe decided that they wanted to create something that was aesthetically more beautiful than what existed there before," Elmets said.

The sculpture, "Poems of the Pond," by San Diego-based artist Jeffrey Laudenslager, features three circles in metal atop an 18-feet-tall, tapered column on a three-foot base; the circles will move in three planes and periodically line up concentrically in one plane. Laudenslager has exhibited widely nationally and internationally, and some of his work can be viewed to musical accompaniment on YouTube.

Construction began this month and should be finished by Thanksgiving, Elmets said.

Max Alper, an organizer with Unite Here Local 2850, said the project is a slap in the face to workers at a time when the casino has told them it cannot afford to give raises and wants them to pay more for their health care coverage. The casino and the union, which represents more than 150 food service, housekeeping and miscellaneous workers at the casino, are locked in a bitter labor stalemate.

Elmets said the casino has been saving several years for the beautification project, which he said would cost about $6.5 million, to be paid out of cash reserves.

"It's aesthetic, for the benefit of the community and the guests," Elmets said, adding that the project is creating more than 100 jobs during construction.

In accordance with a 2003 Municipal Services Agreement between the Lytton Band and the city, the casino will pay San Pablo an estimated $14.25 million this fiscal year in lieu of taxes and a share of gross gambling revenue. That comes out to about 55 percent of San Pablo's $26.3 million 2011-2012 operating budget.

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