Garden City leaders fight to keep new gambling machines out of area

GARDEN CITY, Idaho (KBOI) - Garden City leaders decided Tuesday to respond to a letter from Ada County Commissioners in an effort to keep new gambling machines out of Les Bois Park.

City council members say plans call for 200 or even 400 historical horse race gambling machines to be installed but they have concerns about who'd pay for additional police and fire services along with traffic upgrades.

"Our Garden City residents are already paying for services for a variety of land that pays no taxes," said Kathleen Simko, council member. "The Expo Idaho is a huge part of our community, and it pays no taxes and we have to support it with our services, police and fire."

Ada County Commissioners support the machines.

"There is a great deal of excitement and support in our community and statewide to have historical horse racing at Les Bois Park," according to a letter dated Oct. 31 from commissioners to Garden City.

City leaders say the gambling will bring problems.

"The sheer scarcity of gaming within the proximity of the Valley, I think the operation will be bigger, larger, busier and have a bigger impact than people understand," said Jeff Souza, council president.

Commissioners write: "The addition of historical horse racing is not a major change to what has been occurring on this property for years. Treasure Valley Racing has requested permission to remodel the Turf Club and to operate historical horse racing on the first floor of that building."

"It's gonna attract, I think, folks that maybe don't have anyplace else to go to spend their money," Simko said, "and it doesn't generate a revenue stream for our community, and so I don't think that's a positive step."

City council members say Ada County Commissioners have scheduled a public hearing for later this month. They plan to be there to fight to keep these machines out of their area.