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CSKT buys Sunny Shores resort property in Big Arm

Driving through Big Arm, one can see the sign for the Sunny Shores Bar and Casino. The property closed down operations in 2008, and recently the tribes purchased the property after the original asking price was reduced down to $1.2 million. (Adriana Fehrs photo) Driving through Big Arm, one can see the sign for the Sunny Shores Bar and Casino. The property closed down operations in 2008, and recently the tribes purchased the property after the original asking price was reduced down to $1.2 million. (Adriana Fehrs photo)

By Adriana Fehrs

BIG ARM — The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes recently acquired the Sunny Shores Casino resort properties.

Back in May, CSKT purchased approximately 13 acres; which included seventy-eight boat slips, out-house buildings by the docks, RV hook-ups, five cabins, two houses, a small duplex, a manager’s trailer, workshop/garage, the Big Arm General Store and gas pump, a drain field, and the Sunny Shores Restaurant/Casino building. The property spans both sides of highway 93, and includes about seven hundred fifty feet of shoreline on Flathead Lake.

Since 2008, only the boat slips at the Sunny Shores Bar and Casino have remained in operation. Now under the new ownership of CSKT, the property is undergoing assessments, and the tribes are hopeful about future operations. (Adriana Fehrs photo) Since 2008, only the boat slips at the Sunny Shores Bar and Casino have remained in operation. Now under the new ownership of CSKT, the property is undergoing assessments, and the tribes are hopeful about future operations. (Adriana Fehrs photo)

The tribes made a motion to purchase the property after the original asking price was reduced down to $1.2 million. Carolee Wenderoth, CSKT Tribal Lands Department, says, “It was a prime piece of property that would be advantageous for the tribe to acquire.”

The previous owner halted operations of the casino and general store and placed the property up for sale around 2008, after his wife had passed. Only the boat slips remained in operation. The owner offered to sell the property to CSKT, and a price was negotiated.

The tribes are assessing the electrical wiring, plumping and overall condition of the infrastructure of the recently acquired Sunny Shores casino/bar/restaurant property. The tribes have not made any decisions on future plans for the property. (Adriana Fehrs photo) The tribes are assessing the electrical wiring, plumping and overall condition of the infrastructure of the recently acquired Sunny Shores casino/bar/restaurant property. The tribes have not made any decisions on future plans for the property. (Adriana Fehrs photo)

Currently, Tribal Lands Department is managing the property. “Nothing except for the boat slips is in operation yet,” says Wenderoth. She noted that sixteen of the boat slips are being rented out.

During the acquisition process, a gas leak from an underground storage tank was identified at the Big Arm General Store location. The property is currently in remediation status and the tribes are continuing to monitor the soil carbon concentrations from the underground petroleum tank, which was found to have a gas leak in 2005. “The majority of the contaminated soil has been removed, and once the tribes decide whether or not to remove the tank, we will have a better idea of how long the remaining cleanup effort will take,” says Wenderoth.

The tribes recently acquired Big Arm General Store. Carolee Wenderoth, tribal lands department, says, “The opportunity presented itself, and the tribes seized the opportunity. We are excited, and we are hoping for the best with this property.” (Adriana Fehrs photo)  The tribes recently acquired Big Arm General Store. Carolee Wenderoth, tribal lands department, says, “The opportunity presented itself, and the tribes seized the opportunity. We are excited, and we are hoping for the best with this property.” (Adriana Fehrs photo)

The property qualifies for clean up funds, and if possible, the tribes will use the program to remove the rest of the contaminated soil.

The tribes are assessing the electrical wiring, plumbing and overall condition of the infrastructure on the entire property. The tribes have not made any decisions on future plans for the property.

Wenderoth says, “The opportunity presented itself, and the tribes seized the opportunity. We are excited, and we are hoping for the best with this property.”

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