Public hearing date set for casinos
A 12-hour marathon session for casino proposals in Orange, Sullivan and Ulster counties will be held in Poughkeepsie
By Nathan Mayberg
ALBANY — Those wishing to make their views known to the state board tasked with locating up to two casinos in either Orange, Sullivan or Ulster counties will have their chance on Sept. 23 - in Poughkeepsie.
The New York State Gaming Commission Facility Location Board will hear testimony on the merits of the casino proposals which include half a dozen in Orange County, two in Sullivan County and one in Ulster.
To 'not show favoritism'
The hearing is scheduled for a 12-hour session at The Grandview on Rinaldi Boulevard in Poughkeepsie from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Lee Park, a spokesperson for the New York State Gaming Commission, said the board intentionally avoided holding the hearing in any of the towns or counties where a casino is proposed in order to "not show favoritism and to be completely objective."
Poughkeepsie, Lee said, is "very accessible" and within "walking distance of the train station."
Poughkeepsie is about 50 minutes or more from a proposed casino location in South Blooming Grove and more than an hour from the proposed Tuxedo casino and Kiamesha Lake sites.
As for the 12-hour public hearing sessions, Park said the board preferred to get the public hearings done in one day rather than spread it out over two or more days.
"These guys all have full-time jobs," Park said. "It will be a long day."
The five-member board is chaired by Kevin Law, president and CEO of The Long Island Association, an economic development group.
Other members include:
Hofstra University President Stuart Rabinowitz, who is a Long Island Association board member.
Former New York City Comptroller and mayoral candidate Bill Thompson, who now works as managing director of the investment banking company Siebert, Brandford, Shank and Company.
Dennis Glazer, a retired partner in the law firm of Davis, Polk and Wardwell LLP.
Paul Francis, managing partner of Cedar Street Group, LLC, a Westchester County-based venture capital firm.
'Wherever the negatives are best mitigated'
State Assemblyman James Skoufis, D-Woodbury, represents a district which includes casinos proposal in New Windsor, South Blooming Grove and Woodbury.
Skoufis said he was "not terribly happy about" the board's announcement.
"It doesn't make sense," he said. "(Poughkeepsie) on the other side of the river where there are actually no proposals. I don't know what the thinking was.
"If you want participation at a public hearing," the assemblyman added, "you would think you would want it at a more central location."
He said that the facility location board had not reached to him. "As far as I know, they haven't reached out to locals here."
Skoufis said he respects the decisions by the town and village boards in his district which have voted to support the proposed casino projects.
"A casino should go wherever the negatives are best mitigated."
In Woodbury, that would mean a new highway interchange would have to be constructed, in his opinion. "Traffic is something that really needs to be significantly mitigated," Skoufis said.
South Blooming Grove would also need infrastructure work, including an expansion of roadways, he said.
Representatives of the casino projects have been "making their pitch" to him, he said. He has told them that a dedication to local workforce development and union construction is important to him.
None should get tax breaks, he said.
State Sen. John Bonacic, whose district includes the site of a proposed casino in Tuxedo, and who helped write the casino legislation, did not return multiple messages seeking comment.
Sen. William Larkin, R-C, Cornwall on Hudson, represents South Blooming Grove, Montgomery, Woodbury, Newburgh and New Windsor, all of which have sites with proposed casinos. Larkin did not return a call seeking comment.
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