Concerns about traffic were on the minds of people who attended an open house Thursday night about the proposed new location of the Hollywood Casino in Aurora.
Residents of a neighborhood off Church Road fear traffic will increase on that road, with people using it as a back way to access the casino.
“Go ahead and build the thing (the casino),” said Tom Gruzauskas, who lives in the Country Squire Estates neighborhood off Church. “But don’t destroy our neighborhood.”
“I don’t want Church Road to turn into another Farnsworth,” said Cathy Gardner, another Country Squire Estates resident. “Because we have a nice, quiet neighborhood.”
Church is two lanes from Indian Trail Road on the south to Bilter Road on the north. The casino will be built on land bounded by Church, Bilter Road, and Farnsworth Avenue, north of Corporate Boulevard.
The casino would front Farnsworth, but there would be an entrance in the rear off Church. A traffic engineer said delivery trucks would use the Church entrance. But Gardner told him that since an employee parking lot will be in the rear, she believes workers who live south and west of the casino would use Church to get in, rather than winding around to entrances on Farnsworth.
In particular, she is asking the city and the developer to consult with the Rockford Diocese about the effect of increased traffic on Annunciation Catholic Church and School, located at a four-way stop at Church and Molitor.
Penn plans to add lanes to Farnsworth and Bilter, according to its website about the plans.
A representative of a union hall north of the casino site on Farnsworth told one of the planners that it will be more difficult and dangerous for its students to turn in and out. The union is opening an automotive-repair training center and expects to have several hundred students.
Others wondered how the Farnsworth Avenue/I-88 tollway entrance and exit ramps will handle increased traffic.
Representatives of the architectural firm designing the casino stood by easels showing plans for roads, drainage and the layout of the casino and its hotel, answering people’s questions. City employees also responded to questions about the project.
The Aurora Planning and Zoning Commission will have a public hearing on the plan on June 7, according to Tracey Vacek, a senior planner for the city.
Several people protested outside the meeting, holding a large prop check depicting the City of Aurora paying Penn National Gaming $50 million. It referred to the redevelopment agreement the city council approved last fall, where the city will lend money to the casino company for building the new casino.
The agreement calls for the loan to be repaid from increased property taxes on the site. If that tax revenue isn’t enough, the casino company would have to make up the difference. The city also donating is some of the land for the project.
The Hollywood Casino has been on the Fox River in downtown Aurora since 1993. City and casino officials believe it can do better business if it moves close to the tollway. It will be across Farnsworth from the Chicago Premium Outlets Mall.