PORTERVILLE, CA – Eagle Mountain Casino is relocating this fall, and the Tule River Tribe and the City of Porterville are working together to build economic development, tourism, and a branding effort for Porterville.
“Instead of thinking of the Porterville Airport area as a business park in a traditional sense, the area is truly how different uses, including aeronautical, agricultural, commercial, industrial, governmental, logistics, operational and recreational function together harmoniously for a broader community impact,” said John Lollis, Porterville City Manager.
Currently, the Porterville Airport area is headquarters to the largest agriculture truck company in the U.S., the U.S. Forest Service, supervisors office, fairgrounds, sports complex, and soon Eagle Mountain Casino.
“The city views the southwest quadrant of State Route 65 and State Route 190 as the future employment and activity center of the community along with the opportunity for growth and economic development,” said Lollis. “We see it as the future job center and activity center of the community along with the opportunity for growth and economic development.”
Lollis hopes that the relocation of Eagle Mountain Casino will make this a destination for people to visit Porterville. The joint powers agreement (JPA) between the City of Porterville and the Tule River Tribe has been a working vision that has required years of patience to allow the city and tribe to form a JPA.
Previously, legislation proposed by the city and tribe was not signed by former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger when it was first proposed, and that was an initial roadblock. However, it was signed by former Governor Jerry Brown when he assumed office, and the long-fought plan to work together formally for the betterment of the city and the tribe was finally a reality.
The relocation of the casino moves the most prominent water consumer on the Tule River Reservation into the City of Porterville and allows for needed housing development on the reservation. A 400,000-gallon per day recycled water tertiary treatment facility and a million-gallon water reservoir is now under construction. It will enable the city to irrigate its 100-acre sports complex with recycled water, demonstrating the ability of the city and tribe to collaboratively work together with more efficient use of water being the number one priority resource.
The City of Porterville and the Tule River Tribe are coordinating on developing an active transportation plan, including the casino, sports complex, airport, fairgrounds, and reservation. “The city is also partnering with the tribe on housing and development with the Tule River Housing Authority developing a 40-unit affordable housing project in the city,” said Lollis.
The Porterville Area Development Authority (PADA) was created as the authorized JPA to implement improvements to support the casino and the development of the entire resort. It was beneficial to form this authority where representatives of the city and the tribe would come together.
“Every time we meet, we arrive at new ideas for the future,” said Lollis. “That’s the exciting part; it’s not just talk anymore, the reality of these visions coming together and extraordinary things for the Porterville community.”
In the next five to six years, the city will transcend to converting its main sewer treatment plant to recycled water and the satellite plant that is currently under construction will assist in the transition for the casino and sports complex, but also other local parks and school sites within the city that will convert its irrigation to recycled water and also recharge the city’s wells.
The city is looking to be ahead of the development with the casino’s relocation, providing additional water for housing, business growth, and economic development.
“Through PADA, we will see joint economic development as the tribe looks for other business opportunities beyond the casino,” said Lollis. Additionally, the city is in negotiations to build a new library at a location on Olive Avenue that has historical significance to the tribe.
The Tule River Reservation was established in 1873 in Porterville, CA. Tribal enrollment is just over 1,900 and the reservation spans approximately 55,356 acres. The Tule River Yokut Tribe operates the Tule River Health Center, Justice Center, and many tribal services within the reservation. The tribe also owns and operates gas stations, restaurants, and other entities under the Tule River Economic Development Corporation.
The new casino property is scheduled to open in the fall of 2022, off Highway 65 in Porterville, CA, next to the Porterville Fair Grounds. The property will double in size growing to over 100,000 sq. ft., featuring new dining options, 1,750 slot machines, 20 table games, and an event center.