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Residents protest potential casino site; 'My prayer is we vote no'

Ballys Corporation Richmond 1
Posted at 4:26 PM, Apr 07, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-07 16:26:48-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- A group of people living in one Richmond community is asking city leaders to "just say no" to a plan that build a casino nearby.

They held a protest in Stratford Hills.

Plans are set, proposals submitted and three companies are in the final running to bring a casino to RVA.

One aiming for the Stratford Hills area behind Publix and Target is Bally's $650 million casino and resort.

The company guaranteeing the city an upfront $100 million payment.

This proposal sparked a change.org petition and opponents are now rallying through the group neighbors for responsible development on Forest Hill corridor.

Rebecca D'Angelo has been very vocal.

She said, "we don't need to become these other metropolitan cities because we are exactly who we are and where we are supposed to be. A casino isn't going to change that. My prayer is we vote no, I understand that those who vote yes are probably looking at jobs, but let's find new ways to do that."

Having studied the area for years, Jason Haase said he learned the land was once owned by former slaves and through the years purchased by large scale investors.

He's concerned graves in the wooded area will be impacted and believes they're part of the Gravel Hill Community Cemetery mentioned in these Chesterfield Historical Society of Va. notes

"Eight graveyards within a .25 mile radius from the Bally's proposed site. There are three that are within 400 feet," Haase said. "There is free people's gravestones on the green family cemetery, which is 100 feet from the casino proposal property and it's in danger of the road coming through. There is a documented home site on the Ballys' proposal and neighbors say there are unmarked graves on that site."

Bally's spokesperson Michael Monte said the cemetery referenced is not on their site, stating, "beyond this, we have seen some sketches drawn by hand, but we have not seen any valid sources that would indicate any graves on our site. Bally's will look into any information with respect to this issue and address it appropriately"

He said Bally's is committed to being a good neighbor to the community and looks forward to demonstrating that to residents, business owners and community leaders.

Haase said whether the casino is approved or not, his next step is to work with historical experts to get the grave sites recognized.