"TO SEIZE THE MOMENT"
Presented by the Golden Hill Tribe of
The Paugussett Indian Nation
Aurelius H. Piper Jr.
(Chief Quiet Hawk)
The following document places into clear focus a combination of people and Circumstances, which appear to be coming together at the right moment, in the
right time, in the right place, The players in this scenario are The Golden Hill Tribe, The city of Bridgeport and the state of Connecticut.
What's at stake couldn't be clearer -- social and economic survival.
Let us look at the people and circumstances and why it is apparent that in seizing the moment today we will be
creating a better tomorrow.
The Paugussett, a state recognized tribe of Native Americans, settled in Connecticut in the early 1600's. Their primary reservation today is in Colchester, but colonial legislation pinpointed part of the Paugussett settlement to also include eighty acres in what today has become downtown Bridgeport. All proper legal channels are being pursued ,regarding this land claim.
This land claim gets to the heart of the matter since it is directly tied to gaining
federal recognition by the U.S. Government, and allow the Tribe to be in the position of fully determining its own future.
Downtown Bridgeport will be discussed as we move further along in the document. With respect to Colchester, it is vitally important to gain proper federal recognition in order for tribal members to receive the basics of human existence housing education, jobs and health care. Federal funding would make realities of these goals.
The Tribe, in maintaining its pride and dignity, seeks its rightful identity: Complete sovereignty as and Indian nation.
For individuals and groups the need to be self-sufficient is a basic human need. The Golden Hill Tribe has survived many obstacles to reach this point in their history.
A USA Today edition (May 20, 1992) read, in part:
�In the 1980 Census, 28% of Native Americans lived in poverty. A quarter of their houses lacked complete plumbing, and 16% had no electric lighting. Diabetes, TB, youth suicide, depression and alcoholism all exceed national rates��
Life for the Tribe, on and off the reservation, has been difficult.
Change now seems to be within its grasp. At this period in time, it appears as though attention to the plight of Native Americans is higher and more focused than it has been in many years. The Tribe�s federal recognition status will be an inevitable reality.
Gaining federal recognition status provides the foundation to accomplish goals and
objectives. It is a testament to the strength and nobility of the Golden Hill Tribe that they refuse to sit idly by while waiting for litigation decisions.
By developing a social and economic plan for themselves and fully aware of its impact on the city of Bridgeport, the Tribe is displaying the character
that has helped them endure for hundreds of years.
Their plan is ambitious, innovative, visionary, and most importantly for all concerned � a totally optimistic view of the future as it affects the Tribe, the city of Bridgeport and the state of Connecticut.
The Golden Hill Tribe of the Paugussett Indian Nation is looking to receive a �Recognition of Exemption,� which give them tax exempt status and entitle them to receive special grants and development funding earmarked for Native
American tribes and their members. By receiving government grants, which would mean funding for basic economic and
human services, the Tribe�s members and leaders will be receiving their rightful share of the American dream. It
is so ironic that thousands and thousands of immigrants have taken advantage of government assistance programs that have been closed to Native Americans.
The primary goals in the plan are two-fold (1) To enable the Tribe to achieve economic, cultural, social and political self-sufficiency: and thus (2) To enable the Tribe to play a central and pivotal role in Bridgeport�s economic revitalization.
The primary focus of the plan is the creation and development of the Golden Hill Indian Casino Complex in downtown Bridgeport.
This 200,000 to 250,000 square foot area would consist of but not necessarily limited to the following:
The Golden Hill Casino
The Golden Hill High Stakes Bingo Hall
The Bridgeport Convention Center & Sports Coliseum
Golden Hill Casino
all forms of gaming would be subject to the provisions of the 1988 Indian Gaming Act.
state-of-the-art facility encompasses:
Gaming Tables (175 to 200)
Wheels of Chance (20 to 30)
Slot Machines and/or Video Slots (250-500)
Poker Tables (75 to 100)
Sports Bar Area (Sports Wagering and Racing Simulcast from around the nation)
Cafeteria-Style restaurant (7,000 to 10,000 meals per day)
Mid-Scale Restaurant (150 seats)
Informal Bar Area (100 seats)
Theater/Night Club (Limited Seating)
Hotel (1500 to 2000 guests)
Parking Facilities (25000 vehicles)
The Golden Hill High Stakes Bingo Hall
This would accommodate 2,000 to 3,000 players.
Bridgeport Convention Center and Sports Coliseum
This part of the Complex would include:
Meeting Hall (5 to 10)
Entertainment Theater (15,000 to 20,000 seating)
Sport Coliseum (20,000 to 30,000 seating)
Parking Facilities (10,000 to 12,000 vehicles)
It must be worth noting that for all of its problems, Bridgeport�s geographical proximity to the Greater New York Metropolitan Area makes it a prime location for a casino-convention-sports-entertainment complex. There�s easy access via multi-lane highways for the millions of people in Greater New York, Westchester County, New Jersey and Long Island, in addition to the major New England population centers in Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island. There�s easy air access to Sikorsky Airport from all area airports. Bridgeport already has its own direct ferry to and from Long Island, as well as its own railroad terminal. Indeed to use the jargon common to the real estate world, one of the outstanding features that insures this project�s success is its �Location, Location, Location.�
While the casino complex represents the business and economic aspirations of the Tribe�s total effort the Tribe will preserve the heritage and place in history by including in its plan:
The Golden Hill Indian Village consisting of:
Community Tribal Center
Day Car Center
Health Care/Substance Abuse Center
Senior Citizen Center
Single and Multi-Family Housing
Golden Hill Native American Theme Park consisting of:
A model Indian community of the 1600�s
Cultural Center with Gift Shops
Botanical Gardens and/or Nature Trails
Rides, Shows & Attractions
The Golden Hill Tribe recognizes its civic commitment in helping to revitalize and stimulate downtown and all of Bridgeport. As part of its long
range goal, the Tribe would help to contribute to a new and modern Bridgeport Public Library Building, new Bridgeport transportation facilities, and other community-minded projects.
An estimated 10,000 to 12,000 new jobs will be created under the Golden Hill economic and development plan. A great majority of these jobs will be filled directly from the community. What this means to the local community in terms of employee spending on goods and services is enormous in its impact.
It is of vital importance to the success of this venture that Downtown Bridgeport provide safe and secure environment for the thousands of guests who will visit and work in this area. The Tribes plans to have its own security division and hopes to secure a working arrangement with the Bridgeport Police Depart that will result in a downtown area relatively crime and drug free 24 hours a day, 7 days per week.
THE BRIDGEPORT STORY
The Golden Hill Tribe is totally committed to the economic and social resurgence of Greater Bridgeport.
One is inextricably linked to the other. It should also go without saying that a revitalized Bridgeport would represent significant revenues and taxes for the state of Connecticut. The point of this page is to show that these groups are part of a total picture and are linked together. The Tribe�s proposal is a positive, enthusiastic approach towards helping to revive a once proud city that has been ravaged by social and economic forces.
U.S. News & World Report, in a June 24, 1991 article on the city's misfortunes following its declaration of bankruptcy described the following harrowing scene:
"Meanwhile folks in Bridgeport struggle on ... For several hours, in a scene straight out of the Depression, Twigg (Ann Twigg a 911 operator) and hundreds of other city Hall workers had to wait while banks and stores reversed themselves. But the chill had already set in. "We worry about how long the city will last Twigg says.
It's easy to list the problems that Bridgeport has had to confront over the years. Thousands of jobs lost, consistent double-digit unemployment, high crime, huge business and taxable revenue losses as companies closed or moved elsewhere. Someone has numbers for all of these that can be calculated. What cannot be calculated is the effect this economic devastation has had on the community -- the human side of the story. By taking positive action to restore and economically depressed area, one will begin to see the rebirth of the human side -- pride, dignity, morale. Feeling of hope, a sense of spirit, rededication, optimism, excitement and enthusiasm will spread throughout the entire community.
The Tribe will work with Bridgeport's political and business leaders in forging an exiting relationship which can only be mutually beneficial to all involved. Mention will be made later on regarding the Casino Complex project revenues and what they will do to the tax base. Also mentioned will be a special tax revenue sharing arrangement between the Tribe, the city and state.
Bridgeport's ability to survive economically places the city in a vulnerable position with regard to its dealings with the state. It makes the city more dependant than ever on the state legislature. Here is the opportunity for the city's leadership to recognize all of the positive connected to the Golden Hill Complex and welcome the Tribe's efforts to work out the land claim settlement in the best interests of both parties.
There is and overwhelming need and a sense of urgency for everyone concerned the Tribe, the city and state -- to "Seize the Moment." This partnership, bond, relationship -- call it what you wish -- must be forged before it's tool late. In the July 19, 1992 Hartford Courant, Joseph Gerics of Bridgeport a theology teacher at Fairfield College Preparatory School wrote about "The demise of a once-vibrant downtown mall." He wrote movingly about what has happened to downtown Bridgeport and took the occasion to paint and honest, thought-provoking and realistic picture:
"In cities across the state important downtown institutions are withering and dying. But even more distressing is the similar decay in other aspects of urban life. The end unfolded swiftly at Sears. In our neighborhoods the decline is slower but continues nonetheless...And residents of every Connecticut city know about the problems of crime, drugs and car theft.
Can the deterioration be halted? The collapse of the retail trade in central cities demonstrates that despite suburban accusations of fiscal mismanagement the problems faced by Bridgeport, Hartford and other urban centers are not of their own making. The cities did not create the crisis they face nor can they solve it alone. Urban revitalization will require state and federal intervention... Let's hope America's urban agenda becomes a priority before residents abandon their city neighborhoods as retail merchants have abandoned downtowns. "
What the Golden Hill Tribe is offering to its community, the city of Bridgeport and the state of Connecticut is a positive belief in the future. In its economic revitalization plan can be found the hope, dreams and aspirations of the Tribe and by direct connection the people who live and work in Bridgeport. This is the opportunity for all of the parties to work together and create a new sense of pride, dignity and accomplishment.
It is a situation where everyone wins. For the Golden Hill Tribe it means sovereignty and survival; For the downtown area and the city of Bridgeport it means thousands of jobs, a dramatic step forward to economic re-birth and a new outlook on life; For the state it means significant revenues, which can be utilized in many meaningful ways.
From the most practical economic standpoint, the Golden Hill Casino Complex and Development Plan represents a local business enterprise funded privately from outside sources that will employ thousands of area residents. From the human standpoint the project offers a sense of purpose and commitment to a community that needs to feel alive again. This will be a catalyst that brings a vision of hope for the future. It is time for everyone to "Seize the Moment."