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Borscht Belt communities hope to reclaim the good old days

Jenna Flanagan/WMHT

The state’s Gaming Facility Location Board is on the road gathering public comment on new casino proposals, and it was a full house during hearings at the Grandview Hotel in Poughkeepsie Tuesday.

Supporters from the mid-Hudson Valley region weighed in on which county should be granted casino licenses in front of commission members.

The Innovation Trial’s Jenna Flanagan has more.

It was hard to find anyone in the room who wasn’t in favor of one casino project or another. Most of the support was voiced on behalf of at least one casino license going to Sullivan County. Local business owner and resident Shirley Ann Felder says she wants a Sullivan County casino for one reason,

“It brings opportunity, it brings jobs, it brings joy it transforms people’s lives and it’s gonna give back the working parent the pride that my parents had and that I had raising my daughter.”

Many supporters of a Sullivan County casino cited the regions mid-century hotel and resort success as the Borscht Belt. Some supporters claim that the county has been waiting 40 to 50 years to build a casino while neighboring Orange County has only just jumped on the bandwagon.

Orange County Executive, Steve Neuhaus says his county has 6 strong applicants and they don’t have to offer any tax breaks for their casinos. He says an Orange County casino will have a positive impact on the entire county.

“I have agreements with Rockland Count, we have agreements with Dutchess County to support our casinos, it’s just positive stuff.”

The anti-casino voices came from the Sterling Forest Partnership who is against a casino development in Tuxedo, NY. Chairman Roger Freedman says a casino would have a detrimental impact not only on Tuxedo by attracting thousands of cars it can’t handle but it would also impact the forest environment,

“We see it fragmenting the forest, we see it interrupting bird migration patterns, we see it contaminating water, we seriously question the amount of water that can possibly serve this thing.”

However, Freedman says he does understand Sullivan County’s need for jobs and desire for a casino and would not be against a gaming license going to them.

The New York State Gaming Commission says it will determine which regions are awarded casino licenses next year.


WMHT/Capital Region Reporter for the Innovation Trail
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