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Howe Caverns Will Pitch Casino Plan To Schoharie County

Representatives of an historic tourist destination will make a presentation before the Schoharie County, New York, board of supervisors tomorrow, in hopes of receiving its blessing to host a resort-style casino.

The operators of Howe Caverns in Schoharie County are hoping to woo developers to consider the longtime tourist destination as a prime location for the Capital Region casino allotted under New York’s casino gambling law.

Manager of Howe Caverns William Gallop said the company started seriously discussing the possibility of casino development after the vote earlier this month taken by the Saratoga Springs city council against New York’s casino gambling law.

Gallop said land owned by Howe Caverns is ready for development, and that any plan would not harm the natural, underground cave.

“Howe Caverns will stay intact as Howe Caverns. We’re not looking for a casino to come and take over Howe Caverns,” said Gallop. “What we have is 330 acres of an approved development district, all around us. Property that we own…that is shovel ready. It’s all read to go for future development.”

Gallop said the Schoharie County and Mohawk Valley area is in dire need of economic development. The region took a hard hit by disastrous flooding more than two years ago, in particular from Hurricane Irene.

“Maybe a casino wouldn’t bring everything that’s needed, but I believe businesses and people moving here to work at the casino will help the economy of Schoharie County.

Gallop said he has met with some members of the Schoharie County legislature. He will make an appearance tomorrow morning before the full board of supervisors to pitch the idea.

“And hopefully we’ll get the blessing to proceed forward and see if we can get a developer interested in our property,” added Gallop.

Last month, Schoharie town supervisor Gene Milone proposed a resolution that would put the county in support of casino development. The measure failed with 5 supporting and 8 opposing.

However, Milone said he would not vote for a measure that would exclusively give a go-ahead to Howe Caverns, or any other solitary proposal.

“If someone is going to reintroduce my original resolution, I would be in full support of it. I voted in favor of it last month, I will vote in favor of my original resolution this month,” said Milone. “If it is changed, pointing out a specific site, I will not support it.”

In November, 51 percent of Schoharie County voters approved New York’s casino gambling law.

Legislators in Montgomery County, as well as the communities of Florida and Amsterdam have voted their support for casino development at a location located off route 30. In Saratoga County, in addition to the Casino and Raceway, officials in the Town of Moreau have pitched the idea of siting a casino at the closing Mount McGregor Prison facility.

Developers have also reportedly been eyeing locations in Schenectady and Rensselaer counties. Earlier this week the Times Union reported that a developer walked away from the site of the former Tobin’s First Prize Center, on the border of Albany and Colonie.

The location on a casino sited in the Capital Region under New York’s casino gambling law ultimately rests with a decision by an appointed casino siting board. The state is due to release the Request for Applicants to casino developers this month.

Lucas Willard is a news reporter and host at WAMC Northeast Public Radio, which he joined in 2011. He produces and hosts The Best of Our Knowledge and WAMC Listening Party.
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