Road work linked to casino on city agenda

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BELOIT - An agreement between the Ho-Chunk Nation and the City of Beloit for infrastructure improvements on Willowbrook and Colley roads near the proposed casino/resort project site is scheduled to be reviewed Monday by the Beloit City Council.

If approved, the tribe would provide $2.4 million from the Ho-Chunk Nation Tribal Transportation Program already allocated for the road projects at Colley and Willowbrook. With the agreement, the city and tribe will apply for additional funds through the U.S. Department of Transportation Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development (BUILD) grant program, with the application due on July 15.

According to Beloit Strategic Communications Director Sarah Millard, the city and tribe have "not yet identified the specific amount" being requested in the federal grant application, but noted "it will be a multi-million dollar request."

The infrastructure project has been approved by the Federal Highway Administration as part of Ho-Chunk's Tribal Transportation Improvement Plan for the upcoming fiscal year, according to the June 17 agenda.

Colley Road would be improved from Willowbrook to Gateway Boulevard to a four-lane urban section, while Willowbrook Road would be improved to a four-lane urban section from Stateline Road to Milwaukee Road.

At the end of May, the tribe received its final environmental impact statement (EIS) from the Bureau of Indian Affairs. A draft EIS was released on Nov. 9 and a public hearing held on Dec. 11 in Beloit. The May 31 announcement of the final EIS kicked off a 30-day public comment period on the documents.

The EIS fleshes out a proposal to transfer 33 acres of land into trust status as part of a 73.5-acre plot owned by Ho-Chunk near Willowbrook and Colley roads in Beloit, adjacent to Interstate 39/90.

A final federal ruling on the casino could come as early as July. The plan, if approved at the federal level, then would be sent to Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers for final approval or denial.

In other business, the council could consider an application to be referred to the Beloit Plan Commission that would change city ordinances to allow livestock to be temporarily housed in the city for special events as part of a request by the Beloit Public Library.

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