The approval, in a 5 – 2 vote by City Council last Monday, of the proposed casino in Schenectady does not end the fight of those who believe the future of Schenectady would be brighter and healthier without a casino. The NYS Gaming Facility Siting Board must still decide which of the 4 or 5 Applicants left after the June 30 final application filing deadline has the “best” proposal. In choosing the casino licensee, the Siting Board will give 20% weight to the Local Support or Opposition for the application in the Host municipality and nearby communities. Opponents now have the opportunity to show and explain their opposition to siting a casino at a particular location. [update: See my letter to the editor in the Schenectady Gazette (Jun 19, 2014, C7) with a similar theme, “Still time to voice our opposition to casino” pdf.).] We opponents need to show the weakness in support for the Schenectady Casino Application and the solid bases behind their opposition.
follow-up (Aug. 9, 2014): Despite majorities in their Towns and villages voting No to Proposition One in Nov. 2013, neither the Gazette Letter to the Editor mentioned above, nor email sent to the various town leaders, resulted in local legislative officials coming out in opposition to the casino. Instead, the Applicant’s list of local supporters includes:
- Christopher Koetzle, Supervisor, Town of Glenville
- Kris Kastberg, Mayor, Village of Scotia
- Joe Landry, Supervisor, Town of Niskayuna
Similarly, Rep. Angelo Santabarbara and Rep. Phil Steck sent letters of support. As did Rev. Bill Levering, Senior Pastor of 1st Reformed Church, in Stockade.
To our knowledge, each letter was sent without any chance for the relevant public (other than the often-interested local businessmen) to voice their opinion on the Schenectady proposal.
In the near future, the Siting Board will issue a statement outlining the procedures for the public to use in submitting materials to the Board. This webpage will supply that information as soon as it is available. Update: see our posting “Location Board schedules presentations and hearings” (Aug. 7, 2014)
The Request for Applications to Develop or Operate a Gaming Facility in New York State [Adobe pdf. version] [“RFA”] sets out the criteria and procedures used in the selection process. The following are sections of the RFA relevant to making the case for or against a casino:
[at 7] Initial Requirement of Local Support
“In weighing local support and opposition under this criteria, the Board will consider public statements and declarations, letters or resolutions from the Host Municipality, local governments, private organizations, community, religious and civic groups, charitable organizations entertainment venues, chambers of commerce, local businesses, labor organizations, etc.” (emphases added)
[at 22] Public Hearing
“The Board expects to convene public hearing in each Region to provide the Board with the opportunity to address question and concerns relative to the proposal of an applicant to build a Gaming Facility, including the scope and quality of the gaming area and amenities, the integration of the Gaming Facility into the Host Municipality and nearby municipalities and the extent of required mitigation plans and receive input from members of the public from an impacted community.
“The Applicants for each Region and their agents and representatives are required to attend the public hearing(s) for that Region, may make a presentation and respond to questions of the Board or public comments as directed by the Board or the Board’s designee. Each Applicant must have at least one individual available who, bed on actual knowledge, is prepared to respond on behalf of the Applicant to such questions or public comments that can reasonably be anticipated in regard to the contents of its Application, including the scope and quality of the proposed gaming area and amenities, the integration of the proposed Gaming Facility into the Host Municipality and nearby municipalities and the extent or required mitigation plans.”
[at 23] “Representatives of the Host Municipalities, representatives of nearby municipalities and representatives of any impacted live entertainment venue may attend the public hearing, may make presentations and may respond to questions as directed by the Board or the Board’s designee. Others may attend the public hearing and may make a presentation at the discretion of the Board. Before the hearing, the Board will prescribe the manner in which it will receive comments from members of the public, and may take the opportunity during the hearing to read into the record any letters of support, opposition or concern from members of the public in the vicinity of the proposed Gaming Facility.”
On Friday, June 13, 2013, a staffer at the Racing Commission told me that the Siting Board should be beginning its Public Hearings “within the next couple of weeks.” If that is true, groups and organization, and especially legislative bodies in nearby Towns and Villages, need to be organizing and preparing their statements.
– above: Google Map showing site of the proposed Schenectady Casino at the old ALCO plant at Freeman’s Bridge, with Glenville to the northwest and Niskayuna south and east; click on it to enlarge –
I believe the opinion of nearby communities will be especially important to the Siting Board, and that leaders in Niskayuna and Glenville, which lie so close to the old ALCO site, must be prepared to act quickly to consider and pass resolutions. As is shown elsewhere on the website. strong majorities in those two towns, as well as Duanesburg and Princetown voted No on the November 2013 ballot Proposal One, which authorized the placement of up to 5 casinos in the eastern part of Upstate New York, with another four due at the western end of the state in the near future. Other than the Applicant, only representatives of the Host Municipality, “nearby municipalities”, and impacted live entertainment venues, have the right to make presentations to the Board’s public hearings. All others are at the discretion of the Board.
Bethlehem Resolution: At the end of May, the Town Board of Bethlehem voted unanimously to oppose the then-proposed Exit 23 casino in Albany. As reported in the Times Union on on May 29, 2014:
“It is the sense of the Town Board of the town of Bethlehem that our community is opposed to the E-23 Casino Proposal, as well as to other casino proposals within the Capital Region,” the resolution passed by the board read. “We are concerned with the welfare of the entire community, the impact on citizens, and we question the long-term economic and fiscal benefit of such ventures. And we intend to reach out to other municipalities, including the city of Albany, and neighboring towns and cities, to see if they too would become involved in this public debate.”
Similar resolutions from Glenville, Niskayuna and other towns in the County might help convince the Siting Board that there are better choices than Schenectady for locating a casino.
– we can prevail, as the citizens of Hamilton. Ontario did, in our fight to stop a proposed downtown casino –
Please leave a comment or email message, if you would like to help Stop the Schenectady Casino –