By LENORE RUTHERFORD
Hundreds of people attended an open house yesterday for an update on plans the Tuolumne Band of Me-Wuk have that will change the face of the town.
A new, bigger casino and entertainment center on North Tuolumne Road, a medical center, commercial area, housing development and golf course on the former West Side Lumber Company land in Tuolumne, and a bypass between Tuolumne Road and North Tuolumne Road are all part of the proposal the tribe is working on.
Black Oak Casino Manager Ron Patel estimated 700 to 800 people streamed in and out of the open house, which ran from 3-8 p.m. at the Wild Rose Inn on Bay Avenue.
Tribal representatives, builders and others were on hand to discuss the plans and accept comments.
"I like the way they have integrated their project with the town," Lloyd Schneider of Tuolumne said after viewing plans for the 300-plus-acre former West Side Lumber Company land in Tuolumne. "They could have kept the project separate from the town, but they didn't."
He said he also was happy with plans to expand the casino to make it a family entertainment complex in addition to a place for gambling.
Vera Franck of Tuolumne said she was impressed with the plans and the fact that the Me-Wuk want to improve the whole community.
"They've done a lot for our community already," she said, "and I am sure they will do more."
Sharon Young of Tuolumne agreed: "It looks to me like they've done their homework, and it will be a good thing for Tuolumne."
Phyllis Montgomery, one of the tribe's elders who attended the open house, said all of the comments she received from the public were positive.
"They say we are doing it the right way," she said. "Many of us grew up in this town, and we all want the best for it."