Tribe’s developer ends Wis. project

The San Diego developer hired by the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah) is no longer working on its other Indian casino project in Wisconsin, although the reason for the split with the Menominee tribe may be in some dispute.

KMD Consulting, Inc. and the Menominee reached an agreement to “walk away amicably” from a deal to build an $800 million casino on a former greyhound race track in Kenosha, Wis., Rory Dilweg, who represents the Menominee, said.

“It is a completely amicable parting, great people and project,” Kevin Dwyer, principal of KMD, said in an email.

But the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, quoting an unnamed “source with ties to the tribe,” reported the tribe broke the agreement because KMD failed to make all the monthly payments to maintain an option on the dog track property and did not make a $300,000 payment to the tribe that was due this month.

Dwyer told the Journal Sentinel that KMD’s “obligations to the tribe were amassing” but said his firm did not owe them money.

The break-up was announced officially in a statement released by the tribe Friday.

“The mutual decision to terminate the development agreement between the tribe and KMD Consulting was in the best interest of the Menominee Tribe,” tribal chairman Craig Corn said.

The Vineyard tribe is sticking with KMD, Cheryl Andrews-Maltais, chairwoman of the Aquinnah, said Friday.

“We have every faith in them,” she said. “Our structure is different than what the Menominee had with them. They are truly a good fit and we’re comfortable. As I’ve said before, we’re pleased and proud to work with them. They’ve demonstrated a strong commitment to us and we’re happy with the selection of them.”

The news that KMD and the Wisconsin tribe were parting ways came on the same day that the Times reported that the company and its principals, Dwyer and Edward Samson, are relative unknowns in the casino industry.

Dwyer has boasted about his ties to Vegas and Indian casinos. But several casino experts contacted by the Times said they had never heard of KMD. One reference provided by Dwyer said Dwyer worked as a subcontractor doing millwork for an MGM casino in Detroit.

Ed Bowers, a vice president with MGM, was also provided as a reference by Dwyer. He said Friday he had spoken to Dwyer a couple of times about a possible development, but MGM had decided to pass on the deal for strategic reasons.

“(Dwyer’s) principally worked in the area of tribal casinos and I do understand that he may have done some work with us on CityCenter (in Las Vegas), but that’s not something I’ve had verified,” Bowers said.

A spokeswoman for MGM International wrote in an email to the Times that several major executives she checked with had never heard of Dwyer or his company.

Andrews-Maltais said the tribe researched KMD and found they had connections throughout the industry. She acknowledged earlier this week that some development companies were not up for a protracted legal fight and the tribe had hired KMD because the firm demonstrated the resolve to help the Aquinnah if the tribe sued the state for casino rights.

The Aquinnah are attempting to rally support in Freetown and Lakeville for two upcoming elections. Freetown voters go to the polls Tuesday and Lakeville follows on June 2. The tribe has 500 acres under agreement that straddle the towns and is looking to build a $300 million casino on about 50 of those acres.

Derek Maksy, chairman of the Lakeville Board of Selectmen, said KMD’s background and the overall lack of specifics from the tribe are making him uneasy as the election approaches.

“Does (Dwyer) complete the projects he starts? Is the community satisfied in the end? We need to know more,” Maksy said.

Until the tribe is willing enter into a memorandum of understanding, he said he can’t support the ballot question. “They can promise us the world,” he said. “Put it in writing.”

by George Brennan

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