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Lightfoot Creates Casino Community Council After Neighbors Push To Negotiate With Bally’s

The committee comes after neighbors slammed the process under which the $1.7 billion casino was approved and as neighbors push to help shape the casino campus.

A rendering of Bally’s proposal for a $1.7 billion casino to be built at the Tribune Publishing site at Chicago Avenue and Halsted Street.
Bally’s/SCB
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CHICAGO — Mayor Lori Lightfoot has launched a new Casino Community Advisory Council as the city prepares to build its first casino.

In a press release, Lightfoot said the council will serve as a channel for community input. The move, supported by local Ald. Walter Burnett Jr. (27th), comes after neighbors slammed the process under which the $1.7 billion River West casino was approved and as neighbors push to negotiate plans directly with Bally’s.

RELATED: River North Group Wants Bally’s Casino To Scrap Riverfront Music Venue For A Public Park

The committee will primarily focus on the permanent casino site at the old Tribune Publishing site in River West but is expected to also consider issues related to the temporary Medinah Temple casino in River North.

The casino council, which will meet quarterly, includes residents, representatives from surrounding community groups and experts.

The members are:

  • Maurice Edwards, president of the Cabrini-Green LAC Community Corporation   
  • Robin Schabes, resident and volunteer chair of the River North Residents Association Development & Land Use Committee   
  • Julie Darling, board member of the West Loop Community Organization 
  • John Bosca, president emeritus at Neighbors of River West   
  • Edward Warm, Chicago Independent Venue League   
  • O. Victoria Lakes-Battle, executive director of the Chicago Metro Region at IFF   
  • Jose Bedolla, board member of the West Central Association   
  • Eunice Liao, mental health counselor and gambling program lead at Pui Tak Center   
  • Julianna Castro, financial assistant of the American Indian Health Service of Chicago   
  • Darlene Oliver Hightower, president and CEO at Metropolitan Planning Council  
  • Nilay Mistry, interim program director of the Illinois Institute of Technology   
  • Jonathan Snyder, executive director at North Branch Works   
  • Nadia Quarles, assistant vice president for business diversity at the University of Chicago   
  • Phillip Nicodemus, director of research at Urban Rivers   
  • Marty Padilla, president at Greater River North Business Association  
  • Michele Dreczynski, program manager/consultant at Near North Unity Program   
  • David Powe, director of planning and technical assistance at the Active Transportation Alliance   
  • Andrea Kluger, deputy chief of staff at the Chicago Federation of Labor   
  • Chynna Hampton, equity director of Climate Jobs IL, IL AFL CIO   

Lightfoot said her administration is dedicated to ensuring residents have the chance to share their concerns about the casino.

“This Community Advisory Council will create a tangible space for this important engagement and allow community stakeholders of all kinds to have a meaningful impact before, during, and after the casino’s construction,” Lightfoot said.

Bally’s Chairman Soo Kim said the company is committed to being “good neighbors.”

“We look forward to working with all members of the Chicago Casino Advisory Council,” he said.

Bally’s temporary casino is slated to open in the second quarter of 2023 and the permanent casino is slated to open in 2026.

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