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Albany Casino Plan Presented To Common Council

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Capital District OTB has partnered with a Rochester developer - they've come up with a $300-million idea to build a casino at Thruway Exit 23.  Albany Common Council members were briefed on the plan Friday afternoon.

A 60-acre site in southern Albany belonging to U.S. Senator Kirtsen Gillibrand's grandmother is being pitched as the ideal location for a casino.   Proponents of the plan they call "Project E23" say it will generate millions in revenue. The facility will be home to a dude ranch with horseback riding, a water park, and a trolley line to take visitors on tours of historic destinations.

Tenth Ward Common Council member Leah Golby was at the casino project briefing - she found this morning's Times Union article about the proposal very informative.   "I think there's a real possibility there - it's something we're gonna have to look at closely because with casinos certainly come risks. What I found interesting reading the article this morning and really kind of hooked me on being open to this proposal - I'd rather they'd locate here so that the city gets both the benefits and the risks rather than locating just across the river in Renssealaer where we get none of the benefits and all of the risks."

The newspaper reported Mayor Kathy Sheehan expressed concern that Albany could lose the economic benefits of a casino if a developer were to put one up across the river in Rensselaer County.   

While a casino could be a road to relieve the financial distress Mayor Sheehan has been speaking of,  at a recent mayoral forum at Albany law School Sheehan said she feels Albany's development plan for downtown presents a much more attractive package than any casino. "You know you go to the casino in Niagara Falls, people drive in, go to the casino, they stay there, eat there, drink there and leave."

As a courtesy to the proposed convention center, developers promise the casino will not include a concert or entertainment venue - and they promise they'll buy locally grown food.  Mayor Sheehan was not immediately available for comment.

Golby says the developers will have an application ready for submission by April 1.    "The common council will need to pass a resolution in order for the project to go forward."

According to the plan, nearly two-thousand permanent jobs will be created:  Golby was told there may be a project labor agreement - that the average worker at the facility can expect a salary of $43,000 dollars a year - there will be part time jobs as well - with job training targeting locals and minorities - and those jobs will go to city residents.

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.
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