Casino buildings in Broken Arrow defended
BY SUSAN HYLTON World Staff Writer
Saturday, August 18, 2012
8/18/12 at 8:00 AM
Read previous stories and key documents about the Kialegees’ planned casino.
BROKEN ARROW - Developers behind the stymied Red Clay Casino staunchly defended the construction methods used in the installation of a series of modular buildings that have been criticized by a local architect.
Scott Vrooman, a principal of TriArch LLC in Tulsa, questioned work at the casino site in a pointed column in Arch magazine, published by the American Institute of Architects of Eastern Oklahoma.
"Who is watching the shop?" Vrooman said in a phone interview. "This would never make inspection for any building I would design. I would be called on that instantly."
Vrooman said he was particularly concerned about the foundation and the straps used to keep the buildings grounded.
He said he is not a member of Broken Arrow Citizens Against Neighborhood Gaming, a group that opposes the casino, which has been licensed by the Wetumka-based Kialegee Tribal Town.
Vrooman said the casino project does not seem to have undergone the same scrutiny that he and other architects have faced in Broken Arrow.
Some of TriArch's projects in Broken Arrow are the Abiding Harvest United Methodist Church, Northside Christian Church, BA Oil Express, the Jim Norton Ford expansion and the Cedar Ridge Country Club renovation.
Baltimore-based Williams Scotsman Inc. is the maker of the modular buildings.
"We're experts at this. We don't cut corners," said Brian Leonard, a Tulsa branch manager for the company.
Leonard said additional piers were poured to make sure all the buildings' footings matched. The straps that hold the buildings down have to be a certain thickness and are designed to meet code, he said.
Leonard said the same type of modular buildings are in use in numerous church and school facilities throughout Broken Arrow.
"We've done modular projects all over Broken Arrow," he said. "Since this is (Indian) trust land, it's not required to get a city permit, but the way the buildings were installed is as if they were."
Developer Shane Rolls of Golden Canyon Partners LLC of Miami, Fla., said the same type of modular units were initially used at the Cherokee Casino at Ramona.
That casino opened in May 2010 in modular buildings that were replaced this month with an $18 million facility, according to the tribe's website.
The Red Clay Casino website says federal, state and local permits were not required to start construction on Indian land, but the tribe's development team worked with the city to ensure that all work was consistent with city construction standards and regulations.
It also says the tribe offered to allow city officials to inspect the work as it progressed.
But that type of collaboration ended when the plans for the casino were publicly announced in December, resulting in a firestorm of opposition from Broken Arrow residents.
Vrooman said he could not find an architect on the project and got no response from the Kialegee Tribal Town when he inquired.
"We don't use an architect. We don't want an architect," Leonard said. "We want an engineer involved. They're built just like a commercial structure and meet all the same code requirements."
Rolls said the prefabricated buildings meet all the specifications under the International Building Code, as certified by a state-licensed engineer.
He stressed that the casino is only 60 percent complete and that the modular units would be temporary until a permanent casino is built.
The tribe originally planned to open a temporary facility last March and a permanent casino building in 2013. Rolls said the permanent casino would be built along the portion of the property abutting the Creek Turnpike, which is farther away from neighboring houses.
Casino construction came to a halt May 18 after Chief U.S. District Judge Gregory Frizzell granted the state's request for an injunction against the construction and operation of a casino at the site. Frizzell ruled that the landless Kialegee Tribal Town does not have jurisdiction at the site, which is a Muscogee (Creek) allotment.
On Friday, Kialegee Town King Tiger Hobia and members of the tribe's business committee filed a notice of appeal with the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver.
The tribe is being represented in the appeal by Fredericks Peebles & Morgan of Louisville, Colo.
Original Print Headline: Casino buildings defended
Susan Hylton 918-581-8381
Kialegee Town King Tiger Hobia stands in front of the tribe's 60 percent complete Red Clay Casino in Broken Arrow last week. Construction has been halted since May because of a judicial injunction. JOHN CLANTON/Tulsa World
This unfinished room was designed to be the main gaming area at the Kialegee Red Clay Casino. JOHN CLANTON/Tulsa World