Everett’s first black City Council member turns 90
Carl Gipson gets a hug from his great granddaughter Ruby Gipson during his 90th birthday party at the Carl Gipson Senior Center of Everett on Saturday, Jan. 11.
Carl Gipson faced racism in the South and broke down barriers in Everett.
Planning commission reviews Polygon’s plans
Project back before board on Jan. 21
EVERETT - Homebuilder Polygon Northwest was pegged as the rescuer of the long-stalled Riverfront Development project, but the company’s plans for suburbia come with the price of wiping out an established city vision of a thriving urban extension of downtown.
The city’s planning commission appeared to be gritting its teeth last week over Polygon’s proposal to build a low-density neighborhood on the property along the Snohomish River east of Interstate 5 in the Lowell Neighborhood.
Some commissioners called the proposal to plop a suburban neighborhood on the property a loss of a great opportunity.
Polygon officials counter that its proposal meets what the current market will accept, and that the company can fast-track construction within the strict time lines set by the city.
Last week’s three-hour discussion ended with the commission requesting to meet again on Jan. 21 to get answers on whether Polygon will modify some elements of its plan. The commission also wants legal clarification on how much authority it has to change the plan since the City Council accepted Polygon’s proposed plans, which didn’t detail how many homes would be built, last spring.
Polygon is asking for changes the company recently proposed to the council that essentially wipe out the city’s vision for a variety of townhomes and single-family houses on the piece of the property known as the Simpson site.
Polygon’s change requests include allowing street-facing garages instead of urban-style alleyway access points, removing a central “community green” park and moving part of that green space closer to the Snohomish River and minor lot size revisions.
City planners recommended in writing that the planning commission approve all of Polygon’s requests without question.
“Polygon has the right to propose a different mix of housing types than the originally proposed mix of housing contemplated by the conceptual site plan for the Simpson site,” planning staff wrote in the resolution before the commission.
The planning commission and City Council have a say because the city and Polygon entered into a development agreement.
Last April, Polygon told the council it could build up to 1,400 homes on the site, but Polygon didn’t release exact details until September.
Polygon is now proposing 223 homes on what is known as the Simpson site and 175 townhomes on what is known as the Eclipse site.
Polygon also announced last week the company is “contemplating” building 350 to 400 condominiums or townhouses on the commercial section of the Riverfront Development.
If Polygon built what it said it might, the property would have around 800 residential units. The city’s goal for the site was 900 units. The development agreement allows for up to 1,400 units, with up to 650 on the Simpson site.
Commissioner Loren Sand and others said requiring a minimum number of housing units should be added to the development agreement. The current agreement has no minimums.
“If the intent of the city is an urban development and urban development defined by density, a minimum number is crucial,” Sand said.
The commission is powerless to add such a requirement, but it can be requested by the City Council. The commission’s role is to evaluate whether Polygon’s changes are compatible with surrounding uses and maintains a unique character.
Polygon may not be willing to budge much. It also is now couching its plan as a first phase for the Riverfront Development.
Polygon land use manager Nick Abdelnour dressed down Sand during the meeting, saying that changing the number of units isn’t on the table.
“Property owners should have the right to dictate the number of units,” Abdelnour said during the meeting.
Polygon president Gary Young said the company is receptive to comments, but he gave no indication last week the plan will change.
“We’re going to listen to your comments, but I will ask for your support (to approve the changes),” Young asked the planning commission.
Commissioner Michelle Sosin said she was disappointed that the plan hasn’t changed since it went before the commission on Dec. 17 when it was highly criticized by the public and officials.
“Testimony showed this isn’t the vision the community held of a denser, vital, urban community,” Sosin said.
Polygon knew the city’s vision when it bought the property, she said.
“I’m not hearing any compelling arguments why the commission should change it,” Sosin said.
Also, a vocal number of people are not receptive to Polygon’s proposals for the secluded enclave east of the railroad tracks in north Lowell.
Bob Overstreet, a former council member, told commissioners last week to not let Polygon build this low-density neighborhood for economic reasons. Overstreet believes Polygon’s proposal won’t house enough people in the area to sustain the planned commercial activity on the site. He said the commercial core of Eastmont, an older development north of Silver Lake that is similarly secluded, floundered because of not enough people nearby.
“I can’t help but think and remember that an important part of that City Council discussion was the economic environment,” Overstreet said, adding that “reducing the density in that area will not help meet the economic demand. That’s why we may just need to wait.”
Local developer C.J. Ebert, though, cried foul on statements claiming previous developer OliverMcMillan intended to build a dense neighborhood. Ebert has been following the project since the beginning.
OliverMcMillan, a commercial developer, always planned to sell off the residential parcels and use those profits to develop the commercial side, Ebert said. Polygon was in fact one of the possible companies to take over the residential parcels.
Abdelnour characterized OliverMcMillan’s plans as unproven concept drawings. “When OliverMcMillan bought this, they didn’t commit to 500 or 1,000 units,” Abdelnour said.
Polygon’s lower-density proposal is raising concern the city won’t recoup the $80 million it invested into the Riverfront Development. A breakdown suggests, though, the city only has to recover $13 million to its general fund to break even. A large share of the infrastructure spending was funded with federal and state grants.
City Councilwoman Brenda Stonecipher and others are calling for a new economic analysis on Polygon’s proposal.
Stonecipher has openly questioned if Polygon’s plan will generate enough tax revenue for the city or if Everett faces subsidizing Polygon. The general fund is largely limited to property taxes and business and occupation taxes for revenue.
“I worry that the changes being proposed do not meet the desires expressed by city residents back when they were asked, and reduce the value of this development to the taxpayers, perhaps to such a degree that it could conceivably cost more to provide city services than the city will receive in tax revenue,” Stonecipher wrote in an e-mail to constituents last month, “Which means, of course, that taxpayers will be subsidizing this development.”
The city focused on using the commercial development as a tax generator.
Planning director Allan Giffen said last week the residential areas were “never looked at as cash cows. The commercial was looked at ways to recoup.”
It appears no economic analysis on Polygon’s plan has been written yet. The analysis may not come anytime soon as the company says it’s not ready to produce details on the commercial section of the Riverfront Development while it works to secure tenants.
Young said the amount of taxable square footage is the same amount as previous development plans.
Avenue E property owner back before city for new permit
SNOHOMISH - The city and a protective group of citizens are butting heads again over a land use issue at the familiar site of 402 Ave. E.
Property owner Christopher Koh has re-applied for a conditional use permit, which would allow for the development of a 25-bed senior assisted living facility. A previous property owner had been issued a conditional use permit in 2008, but it was determined by senior planner Owen Dennison to have expired when Koh tried to revive the permit last year.
Koh challenged the city’s decision last year and failed to make his case. He is now back to apply for a new conditional use permit.
The house at 402 Ave. E used to be a senior assisted living facility. In 1992 the house was used as a day care center. The house is now vacant and in disrepair.
The historic downtown preservation group, Your Snohomish, is accusing the city of “dragging their feet” in making changes in the code in order to let Koh build the assisted the facility isn’t compatible with the surrounding single-family historic residential neighborhood. The property is located a block south of Snohomish High School.
The Avenue E property was at the center of controversy last year when Koh, a Seattle-based real estate developer, wanted to convert the dilapidated structure into an apodment, an ultra-high density type of housing.
Under intense opposition from the public, the City Council stopped all action on Koh’s apodment plan in April. After that, Your Snohomish group leader Mitch Cornelison asked the City Council several times to adopt a moratorium on conditional use permits.
The council declined to do so, opting instead to work on a code amendment that would limit the number of conditional use permits allowed in single-family zones, Dennison said.
The Avenue E application wouldn’t be impacted by any future code changes.
Resident Colleen Dunlap said she is concerned that an assisted living facility will present the same problems as an apodment. She also worries the property would eventually transition into an apodment, referred to as a rooming house by the city last year.
Apodments are tiny apartment units that contain only a bathroom and small living space. The building’s tenants share a full kitchen and laundry area. They are billed as an affordable housing option. They are more popular in Seattle, although the proliferation of them in some residential neighborhoods is drawing objections from residents.
“(The building) is prime to become apodments,” Dunlap said. “There is no guarantee that when the developer sells the property that it will remain an assisted living facility. It could revert to any kind of apodment.”
She said the city is trying to disguise the true intent for the property by billing it as a senior home.
“The premise is that this is an assisted living facility, and that puts a public spin on it that says, ‘Oh you’re selling to old people,’” Dunlap said. “But this much overcrowding is not appropriate for a single-family zone.”
Dunlap’s claims are unfounded, Dennison said.
The city code simply does not allow for apodments, Dennison said, so the concern is baseless: “One is allowed by the city and the other one isn’t. That’s the big distinction.”
“The evident concern of the community is that the current code may allow group quarters uses that are out of scale with the surrounding single family neighboring community,” Dennison said. “But I don’t think so, because that’s a specific use in the code that council directed to be entirely different.”
Additionally, there’s a different resident base that the two different types of facilities would draw from, Dennison said.
“One is highly structured and overseen by professionals (senior assisted living facility) and the other is completely independent and only overseen by building management,” Dennison said.
Koh submitted an application for a conditional use permit on Dec. 6.
The city’s public notice on the property site caught the attention of Your Snohomish’s Cornelison, who asked group members to speak at the Jan. 7 City Council meeting.
About nine people spoke about the property.
About 40 people were in the audience.
The issue was not on the agenda that night.
The hearing examiner is tentatively scheduled to hold a public hearing on the conditional use permit on Thursday, Feb. 6.
Mayor lays off economic development manager
MONROE - Mayor Geoffrey Thomas laid off the city’s economic development manager Jeff Sax.
In a brief interview last week, Thomas said he made the decision after seeing that the permitting and planning department was significantly backed up.
“I had the opportunity to review the workload of the permitting and planning department and I learned that there were over 40 applications and other issues in our planning department waiting to be reviewed,” Thomas said. “After meeting with the directors and managers, I concluded that it would be best to reallocate the (economic development manager’s) job function and to look at restructuring our planning, permitting and economic development services.”
Thomas sent an e-mail on Friday, Jan. 3 to members of the City Council and city staff about his decision to eliminate the position. Sax made $80,000 a year.
There were mixed feelings among council members in response to the mayor’s decision.
Councilman Kevin Hanford expressed his “disappointment and frustration” at the Jan. 7 council meeting.
“I was disappointed that the mayor couldn’t have waited three more business days to talk to the council to run the idea past us before making the decision to let someone go on his second day in office,” Hanford said. “I just don’t understand making such a drastic move without running it by us or asking for our input.”
Councilwoman Patsy Cudaback responded to those members, including Councilman Kurt Goering, who were crying foul and reminded those members that no one seemed to care when former Mayor Robert Zimmerman fired community development director Hiller West for speaking about his concerns to the press about Heritage Baptist Fellowship’s East Monroe rezone request, a pet project of Zimmerman and his allies on council.
Zimmerman hired Sax in 2011 and helped push the East Monroe rezone through the city last year. Sax was also in charge of real estate transactions for the city.
“I think that it was the mayor’s prerogative, and we should welcome the new direction and move forward,” Cudaback said.
She added in a separate interview last week that she believes the mayor has a good vision for the city going into 2014 and that laying off Sax was “a wise decision.”
“I think where the city is at, we need someone who is an expert at community development,” Cudaback said. “Jeff specialized in real estate transactions, but community and economic development encompasses grant writing and relationships that are far bigger than that — it reaches out to the rest of the region.”
City administrator Gene Brazel said the city could not disclose details surrounding any kind of severance package for possibly another week or so.
Thomas said Sax’s duties would likely be redistributed among other staff members, Thomas said.
“We’re evaluating the best way to serve our customers, and what I’ll be doing is meeting with staff and council to make certain that we have the right couple of personnel to meet the needs of our planning, permitting and economic development functions.”
Health officials recommend people get flu shots
Free shots available in Lynnwood on Jan. 18
SNOHOMISH COUNTY - If your holidays were spent coughing in bed, you’re not alone.
Snohomish County health officials are urging people to get a flu shot now as a hardy and deadly flu strain began spreading last month.
A re-emergence of H1N1, known as the swine flu, has killed 11 people in the state so far, including a Bothell woman in her 30s last week. A local hospital reported the flu has hospitalized many others.
This strain has enough power to take down healthy people in their 20s and 30s, health officials said.
There is more flu to come. The flu season may only be one-third complete, The Everett Clinic spokeswoman Michelle Graves said.
This flu seems to affect adults in their prime. “It seems to be hitting our middle-aged population more,” Graves said.
Providence Regional Medical Center reports the flu is strong enough to put three Snohomish County residents in intensive care, Providence spokeswoman Cheri Russum said.
Some young people with low-wage hourly jobs are avoiding the flu shot because of cost, but being forced to lose work hours to the flu is “reason enough to get vaccinated,” Russum said. A flu shot can cost up to $30.
Providence treated eight confirmed cases of swine flu two weeks ago that required hospitalization.
Over the last few weeks, the hospital has treated 43 flu cases.
Stay home if you’re sick, Russum said.
“This next few months could be a rough start to 2014 for people who do not protect themselves from the flu,” said Nancy Furness, director of the Communicable Disease Division with the Snohomish Health District.
The Snohomish Health District hosted two free flu shot clinics in Everett last week.
A free flu shot clinic is happening in Lynnwood on Saturday, Jan. 18 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Lynnwood Convention Center, 3711 196th St. SW, hosted by Verdant Health.
The flu clinic is free for both insured and uninsured people, Verdant spokeswoman Jennifer Piplic said.
Last year’s winter flu season was comparatively mild, health district spokeswoman Suzanne Pate said.
National media reports that the H1N1 flu has spread to more than 25 states this winter and has been rapidly growing stronger this month.
The flu killed eight people last year in the state, health officials said.
Protect yourself from the flu
Washing hands, covering your coughs, and staying home when you are sick are effective ways to reduce spreading and getting diseases. Vaccination is the best way to protect yourself and others.
Everyone 6 months and older should get a shot every year, since the flu vaccine changes to match the most common illnesses, the health district said. Flu shots do not contain live virus, so you can’t get the flu from the flu shot, the health district said.
The flu vaccine is strongly recommended for people who are:
• 6 months old and up
• 50 years and older
• age 6 months and older with certain chronic health conditions
• pregnant and in any trimester
• living in long-term care facilities
• living with or caring for those at high risk for complications from the flu
• health care personnel
• household contacts and out-of-home caregivers of infants age 0-6 months (who are too young to receive vaccine)
Everett’s first black City Council member turns 90
EVERETT - Carl Gipson faced racism in the South and broke down barriers in Everett, but those who know him speculate his longevity stems from keeping a calm head and an altruistic interest in helping others.
Gipson turned 90 on Jan. 11 and celebrated with a big party at the Carl Gipson Senior Center, renamed after him in 2009.
He’s made a long journey from growing up as an only child in segregated Arkansas to becoming a well-established businessman and 24-year veteran of the Everett City Council. Gipson was the first black person elected to council in Everett and only the second to be elected in the state.
He is still an active deacon at Everett’s Second Baptist Church, a position Gipson has held for 50 years.
Throughout his life, Gipson always focused on the importance of family and on helping others, his oldest son Carlton Gipson said last week.
A 1975 re-election ad states Carl Gipson is “a man of his word.”
That he is, Carlton said.
“He was always true to his word,” Carlton said. “He said what he meant and meant what he said. If he gave you his word, he would do it.”
Carl would drop what he was doing if someone phoned for help, Carlton said.
Carl was born in rural Arkansas in 1924 and met his wife of 65 years, Jodie, at the Little Rock high school they graduated from. He grew up farming before taking a shipyard job in California in 1943.
He was drafted into the Navy during World War II and sent to Bremerton before being transferred to the naval air base at Oak Harbor for the rest of the war.
Post-war, after brief interludes in Arkansas and California, he and Jodie made it back to Washington state where Everett was one of the few places to accept blacks. In that era, only a handful of black families lived in Everett.
They arrived in 1946, where Gipson worked his way into a job at Sevenich Chevrolet. Gipson worked his way in by offering to cut blackberry bushes, whitewash the walls and a series of other odd jobs Gipson persistently brought to Sevenich’s attention before being hired as an employee.
Gipson quickly made Sevenich Chevrolet a go-to dealership and advanced to shop manager — the first black man to hold this position at a Chevrolet dealership on the West Coast — before opening his own service station in the 1960s at Hewitt and Rucker avenues and a second service station later that decade.
“Gipson was a hard worker, highly personable, and had a talent for making himself indispensable,” biographer John Caldbick wrote recently on the website www.historylink.org.
In the 1960s, Carl and Jodie opened a popular black tavern called The Ebony to meet demand. (Carl told an interviewer that one bar in Everett let in blacks, but they’d break the glass after a black person drank from it.)
Racism was still prevalent in Everett, but it was not as overt as in the South. The Gipsons were threatened and chased out of Mississippi on a trip home by a group of white people wielding tire irons.
Even so, buying a house in Everett was an ordeal as neighbors threatened the seller and the banker.
Jodie and Carl Gipson wanted the house in an all-white neighborhood near the corner of 19th and Hoyt where he still lives today. Jodie died in 2007.
Once the sale was complete, a few neighbors came out of the woodwork to shake Carl’s hand.
Carlton said he doesn’t remember facing prejudice because of his race growing up in Everett, but one incident rang clear in Carl’s life.
In 1976, now a council member in his fifth year, Carl was the only one of 67 applicants to be blackballed from joining the Everett Elks. History suggests someone filled the voting container with black balls. It took only one black ball in the secret vote to be excluded from the club.
He did join the Rotary and was a past president of the Everett High School Parent-Teacher Association.
Carl ran for office in 1971, holding a seat on the City Council until he retired in 1995. He ran for mayor in 1977, but he lost in the primary by 67 votes.
He spent the 1970s and 1980s working for Snohomish County helping people find jobs.
Two of his three sons entered into politics. Carlton, 64, won two terms as a council member in Brier. Ron took over his father’s seat in 1995 and currently is the council’s longest-serving member.
His third son, Alex, who died in 1990, never had an interest in politics, Carlton said.
Around the senior center that bears his name, Carl is known for wearing shirts with funny sayings and comes for lunch once or twice a week before taking an afternoon nap, center director Deb Loughrey-Johnson said.
“Carl has a heart for public service and for developing an inclusive, inviting community,” Mayor Ray Stephanson said. “He is a natural leader and our entire region has benefited greatly from his many decades of service.”
School board selects Caroline Mason to fill seat
Board member Jessica Olson resigns
EVERETT - The Everett School Board added one face and lost another last week.
Everett School Board member Jessica Olson abruptly resigned soon after the board narrowed its candidate selection on Monday, Jan. 6. The application window to replace Olson runs through Thursday, Jan. 23.
On Thursday, Jan. 9, the board appointed Caroline Mason to replace Jeff Russell, who resigned Dec. 1.
The board is accepting applications to replace Olson’s seat through Jan. 23. The public can nominate candidates up until 4:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 16. To nominate someone, e-mail the superintendent at firstname.lastname@example.org. People can apply through Thursday, Jan. 23 by e-mailing the superintendent at email@example.com.
Olson’s replacement will be selected Monday, Feb. 3.
Mason, 48, is a marketing professional who volunteered as public relations chair for a past school district levy committee and has participated on the district’s fiscal advisory committee. Mason has two boys in Everett public schools.
She beat out Myrna Overstreet, George Reynolds, Kristine Petereit and Traci Mitchell. Applicants Rodman Reynolds and Cris Larson were eliminated in the first selection round.
The board’s decision took more than an hour in closed-door session.
Mason will hold the position through 2015, when Russell’s term would have expired, and can run for election for a full six-year term.
Outspoken and often ostracized by her fellow board members, Olson wasn’t clear as to why she decided to resign.
Her resignation came in as a single-line e-mail on Tuesday, Jan. 7 to board president Pam LeSesne stating, “I hereby resign from the board of directors, effective immediately.”
Her resignation, though, came on the heels of Rodman Reynolds and Larson not advancing to the final selection process. Olson did not attend the selection meeting.
Olson openly supported “reform candidates” Reynolds and Kim Guymon during the November election. Neither won election, and Olson told the Tribune last year that she wouldn’t resign unless all the avenues were blocked for a second candidate who thought similarly to her could join the board.
Olson usually was shut down from raising questions on routine board items because she did not have an ally on the board. The board required her to have a second person vote with her to force specific policies and topics, usually voted on within a single package of “consent agenda” items, be unbundled for separate discussion.
Olson told other media that she didn’t want to be on the board beyond four years. She criticized the board as being a rubber stamp for district administration and ineffective.
“In four years, with the exception of putting in the track at Cascade (High School), I can’t think of one thing that the board of directors has done to improve the lives of children,” Olson told the Herald.
Rejected candidates upset
In the application round, Rodman Reynolds and Larson were the only two applicants who had run for election before. Reynolds came in a close second last November to board member Ted Wenta.
Rodman Reynolds railed against the selections on Facebook.
“The Everett School Board has just spat in the faces of more than 10,500 Everett School District voters by eliminating me from the ‘final five’ pool of applicants to fill Jeff Russell’s position,” Rodman Reynolds wrote.
Larson didn’t know why he did not advance, but he was a little surprised since he endorsed LeSesne in the 2011 general election and said he is a relative of board member Carol Andrews.
During public comments last week, two people favored Overstreet and one of those also supported Mason.
“The addition of Caroline would be just a phenomenal step for this board to move forward,” resident Angela Krisinger said before the vote.
Olson exits after a tumultuous time on the board.
Olson never played well with other board members or district administration, but she had fans from parents to open government advocates.
Olson was elected in 2009 with the intent to provide an opposing voice on the school board. Usually she was alone in her effort.
Her tenure came with controversy, and her antagonistic digging and push for transparency caused her to be censured — an official slap on the wrist — twice by fellow board members.
She was awarded a Key Award from the Washington Coalition for Open Government in 2010.
The height of Olson’s popularity, and polarization, came in fall 2011 after a scuffle during a closed-door meeting. Olson tried to run a video recorder during the meeting. The scuffle ended up with the police being called. The incident made national headlines.
In 2012, Olson began stepping back from the board and gained a track record of regularly skipping meetings. Olson defended her absences to the Tribune last year and said she still was making an impact without attending the meetings.
She was allowed to keep her seat because she attended the bare minimum number of meetings, which is once every four meetings.
Vote shuts down social card games at senior center
SNOHOMISH - The Snohomish Senior Center can no longer host social card games for money after a close vote by the City Council last week.
City staff proposed an ordinance to the council which would exempt the Snohomish Senior Center and other nonprofits from a city code banning organized card games, but it was turned down in a 4-3 vote.
Councilmen Paul Kaftanski, Dean Randall, Derrick Burke and Tom Hamilton voted against allowing card games to continue at the senior center and other charitable organizations. Mayor Karen Guzak, Councilwoman Lynn Schilaty and Councilman Michael Rohrscheib voted in favor.
The ordinance will undergo a few changes before coming back to the council.
“Our members use the senior center as a means of socializing, fellowship, exercise, meals and enhancing their mental health with cognitive games, which include bridge, pinochle, and poker among others,” center director Bob Dvorak said. “They play for nickels and dimes; the center is not a for-profit business trying to make a living off gambling. In addition, each of these card groups regularly contribute to the senior center; many of them ask to put these donations towards capital improvement (a building owned by the city) for replacing the front entrance with an automatic door to the building.
“Our members hope that the City Council will reconsider their recent vote on card rooms games played by charitable and nonprofit groups within the city, and please ask you support an interim amendment, similar to the exception above, allowing our seniors to continue to play while you conduct further research on the ramifications of card rooms in the city,” he said.
The senior center got a letter from the state Gambling Commission on Dec. 12 informing the center that a 2009 amendment to the city code prohibits the senior center from “hosting social card games.”
The city intended to make an exception for the seniors, or more specifically for charitable or nonprofit organizations acting on their own premises.
“It wasn’t the intent of the city to prohibit nonprofits, such as the Snohomish Seniors, from hosting card games,” according to a city document about the 2009 code change.
The social card game prohibition in 2009 was in response to a business proposal to open a social card game establishment on First Street, Hamilton said.
The council majority, however, didn’t agree with the city and wanted more changes made to the ordinance that would allow social card game gatherings in the city.
“I was troubled by this revision because it seemed to address only the senior center and did not discuss the larger issue of whether or not social card games should be allowed in the city,” Hamilton said.
Kaftanski agreed with Hamilton and said he thinks there should be a broader discussion about why the games were banned in the first place, and that council members should be more informed before they vote on the issue.
“It’s not that I’m opposed to it; I just wanted to take a step back and look at it in a more broad context,” Kaftanski said. “I didn’t detect there was an overwhelming emergency to pass (the ordinance last week), and I wanted to make sure that I had sufficient information to move forward.”
Rohrscheib voted in favor of the motion.
“I don’t see the harm in this activity and feel the seniors should be allowed the chance to participate if they feel like it,” he said. “I also think the city needs to take another look at possibly lifting the ban on gaming establishments.”