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Newburgh Elected Officials Push The Need For A Casino

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WAMC, Allison Dunne
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Two elected officials in Orange County have sent a letter to members of the New York State Gaming Facility Location Board, inviting them to tour an area they say needs a casino. At the same time, a new study is out on casinos in Sullivan County.

City of Newburgh Mayor Judy Kennedy acknowledged the Catskills’ need for a casino.

“We think that Sullivan County is deserving of a casino. We know that there are challenges facing Sullivan County and that they could be well-addressed with a major economic development project like a casino, “ said Kennedy. “We know that Sullivan County has struggled economically and we know that Sullivan County needs jobs and we know that Sullivan County needs resources for its schools. We acknowledge all of those needs and want to get that clear and straight. But let me very frank, no one needs this more in the Hudson Valley/Catskill region than the city of Newburgh.”

Mayor Kennedy and Town of Newburgh Acting Supervisor Gil Piaquadio sent a letter last week asking casino siting board members to see the need for themselves.

“We are making an invitation to the New York State Gaming Facility Location Board to come to the City of Newburgh and go on a tour with us,” Kennedy said.

The casino proposal Kennedy supports is the Hudson Valley Casino & Resort in the Town of Newburgh, saying her city, with its chronic crime and unemployment, would reap the benefits. And here’s Piaquadio.

“And we agree that Sullivan County deserves a casino project. The facts make it clear Newburgh deserves one as much, if not more.”

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Credit WAMC, Allison Dunne
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Kennedy, Piaquadio, and others, stood on Liberty Street, near the intersection with Renwick, one of the most distressed areas of the city, to make their point. A spokesman for the state gaming commission said the invitation would be passed along to members.

Backers of the Hudson Valley Casino & Resort proposal say their location off Interstate 84 and the New York State Thruway makes their proposed casino one that could coexist with a resort casino in Sullivan County. Marc Baez is president and CEO of the Partnership for Economic Development in Sullivan County.

“Theoretically, in the interest of harmonious relationships within neighboring communities, you look at this on paper and you go, listen, why can’t we all get along and why can’t this situation work for both of us,” says Baez. “It sounds good, but when it comes to the numbers and it comes to Wall Street and the financing of and the actual marketplace, there is a significant advantage in terms of the ability to finance projects in Orange County because of their proximity to New York City. So they’re 40 minutes closer to New York City.”

Baez says any location chosen in Orange would be detrimental to Sullivan. In fact, two of the four casino proposals for Sullivan have been taken off the table in recent weeks, citing financing difficulties because of a potential casino in Orange as the reason. Six casinos are proposed for Orange and one for Ulster.

Kennedy says it is poverty that proves the need for a casino in Newburgh.

“Within 20 miles of the proposed site of the Hudson Valley Casino & Resort are the cities of Newburgh, Middletown, Beacon, and Poughkeepsie, with a combined population of 103,000 people and the poverty rate in just these four cities is 22.4 percent. Compare that to Sullivan County whose total county-wide population is 76,665 with a poverty rate of 17.2 percent.”

Baez highlights a new study that finds casinos would boost Sullivan County economic infrastructure more significantly than other proposed locations. Baez, who notes the independent study was carried out by Capacity Business Consulting, points out that mentioning pockets of poverty is not a just comparison.

“So if we were to pull out a pocket of population, whether it be the Town of Thompson or the Town of Fallsburg or Town of Liberty. I’m sure the numbers would mirror and probably surpass what you see in the City of Newburgh,” says Baez.

He says the study concludes that an awarded casino bid in Sullivan County would have a greater impact on its residents and economy than in any other proposed casino location, and points to wages as an example.

In a related development with the proposed Hudson Valley Casino & Resort, a spokesman for the developer, Saratoga Casino and Raceway, confirms that Rush Street Gaming and Saratoga are in serious discussions about a partnership for the Newburgh proposal.

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