UG approves legislative platform concerning Woodlands

In a brief meeting on Jan. 10, the Unified Government Commission approved a revised legislative platform concerning The Woodlands track in Kansas City, Kansas.

The UG’s platform is given to state legislators from Wyandotte County, who will decide how to vote on issues throughout the next legislative session. The rest of the legislative platform, on other topics, was passed at an earlier meeting.

Mayor David Alvey requested a reconsideration of The Woodlands policy at a previous meeting.

The new platform statement dropped the language from last year that stated the UG would require a master plan for development of the site.

In 2018, the UG supported legislative efforts to assist The Woodlands in reopening as a gaming facility as long as The Woodlands provided benefits to the local community which were on a par with those provided by Hollywood Casino, including a negotiated developer agreement and master plan for overall development of The Woodlands site.

The proposed 2019 UG platform on the issue is that the UG supports legislative measures to assist The Woodlands in reopening as a gaming facility, as long as the owners make a good faith effort to work with the UG on overall development of The Woodlands site.

Commissioner Gayle Townsend asked for a clarification of the proposed platform, whether it was intended to be less specific than in 2018.

Mayor Alvey said the language does not tie the UG to establishing a master development agreement with the developer. “It just gives us more freedom moving forward,” Alvey said.

The revised platform was unanimously approved.

In 2013, the UG’s legislative platform on the issue was opposing changes to the gaming statute, while supporting the reopening of The Woodlands under current gaming law.

In 2016, the UG supported efforts to help The Woodlands reopen, as long as it provided benefits to the local community that are on the same level as the Hollywood Casino. The UG at the time opposed any changes to gaming laws that would put Hollywood Casino at a competitive disadvantage.

At a 5 p.m. meeting Dec. 6, Mayor Alvey supported the UG requiring planning for developments, and said he thought asking the state to support the UG’s desire for a master plan at The Woodlands would be a stretch.

Legislative lobbyist Mike Taylor said the UG’s position on The Woodlands has changed over the years. Three years ago the UG changed its position to being in favor of allowing The Woodlands to reopen if benefits were on a par to those of the Hollywood Casino. A year ago, the UG said it wanted The Woodlands to work with them on developing the rest of the land, not just to be slots only.

One state legislator, Rep. Stan Frownfelter, on Dec. 6 said there was already a plan by The Woodlands, and it was a very nice plan. If the development goes through planning and zoning, the UG would have a say in it, he added.

Mayor Alvey, at the Dec. 6 meeting, said he understood why the UG wants a master plan, but to say they’re not for gaming reopening at The Woodlands unless they do a master plan is a stretch.

Another state legislator, Rep. Pam Curtis, said at the Dec. 6 meeting that some legislators wanted to make sure that developers do not come in and open trailers at the tracks with slot machines in them. If the tracks are asking the state to share the revenues on slots, there should be some return for that, a quality development that all could be proud of, Rep. Curtis said.

Several other items at the commission meeting Jan. 10 were approved as proposed.

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