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Most neighborhood leaders say they’re all in on casino plan

The former Alco factory site along Erie Boulevard in Schenectady, pictured recently, is the site of a proposed casino.
The former Alco factory site along Erie Boulevard in Schenectady, pictured recently, is the site of a proposed casino.
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Ask the leaders of the most downtrodden neighborhoods in the city about a proposed casino, and there’s one firm answer: It would help. “People need jobs and the casino would bring in those jobs,” said Hamilton Hill neighborhood association President Marva Isaacs. Likewise, in the Mont Pleasant neighborhood, leaders are hoping for a casino. “It’s development. We need development,” said Sharron Schmidt, who leads the Mont Pleasant neighborhood association. Downtown, business owners are rooting for ...


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comments

dagiacalone
April 30, 2014
9:04 a.m.

[ Flag Post ]

Seeking or giving support for a Schenectady casino without even knowing the identity and plans of the Applicant seems rather risky. And, accepting at face value the glowing expectations of our professional development cheerleaders and of business leaders planning to partner with any casino, is an even bigger gamble.
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When estimating or anticipating benefits from a casino, we need to keep in mind that a stand-alone casino draws far fewer people from outside the area than a resort-style casino. The NYS Gaming Task Force Report to the Governor (1996) did a close analysis of market areas and segments, and pointed out that most regular customers would be coming from a primary zone of up to 25 miles away and would not need to stay overnight; they would, however, be spending money that would be part of (that is, competing with) the regular local leisure market.
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Customers from the secondary zone come from 25 to 75 miles away and are expected to come less often that those in the primary zone. The Report assumed "that only a few of the secondary zone people (15 percent) would be staying the night in the immediate area." Customers from the tertiary zone of 75 to 150 miles would come "much less frequently", and only 35% would stay overnight. The Task Force Report also noted that the potential customer base is reduced by having other casinos within the 150-mile area that is the "limits of a realistic market size for a casino."
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We also need to know what kind of tax deal Mr. Gillen and Metroplex, the City and County plan to offer an applicant, before counting revenues that would reduce the tax burden of Schenectady tax payers. And, to remember that property values going up could mean higher property taxes for individuals that offset any predicted budget cuts.
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The Task Force Report also notes that "[C]asinos in urban areas should be concerned with the potential for prostitution, panhandling, pick-pocketing and purse snatching. Urban casinos would be adversely affected by unsafe urban environments, so that more resources would have to be devoted to maintain order and protect citizens from street crime." (at 219) In addition, "Traffic-related problems, including drunken driving, road congestion, stranded motorists, parking lot accidents, and automobile break-ins, were also viewed as more prevalent." (at 217)
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Moreover, pathological gamblers "will likely commit additional income-generating crimes", and "Larceny, embezzlement, check forgery, loan fraud and tax evasion are thought to be the most common crimes."
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Finally, before neighborhood leaders announce their support, they should look at the Nov. 2013 election vote on the Casino Proposition. For example, 55.8% of people who voted on that Proposal in Schenectady District 2, which is comprised solely of the Stockade and East Front St. neighborhoods, voted against having any casinos in upstate New York.

SchenectadyScott
April 30, 2014
9:39 a.m.

[ Flag Post ]

Congressman Paul Tonko thinks it is not the way to go for our communities. He publicly stated this on WAMC April 17:"You know, I’ve seen these dividing communities along almost a 50-50 threshold. If there is going to be an issue that people decide, if there is going to be a casino in the area, I hope it’s going to be a situation where it’s not in a poor neighborhood because of the disproportional impact on the poor," he said. "But in general, I’m concerned about us hinging our hopes for a better economy on casinos. I think there has got to be a better way, a more straightforward way. What we have is a dependency on perhaps someone to lose their retirement check or their week's salary so that we can invest in children and their future through education. Somehow that doesn’t make sense to me."

"I know people have been saying that it equals jobs and it provides for economic recovery. I don’t know if the soundness of that recovery is as great as we would like to think; you look at the economy in Las Vegas and Nevada, it has not been that great, the property values have dipped precipitously," he added. "I talked to my colleagues from Nevada, they have had tough, tough times and you see this growing number of states in the Northeast that are delving into this concept of casinos. I have to believe there is a finite amount of money that people are able, not necessarily willing, but able to give. After you have drained some of those paychecks and retirement accounts, what’s left?"

schdyres
April 30, 2014
11:36 a.m.

[ Flag Post ]

Any so called "neighborhood leader" who supports a proposal in the absence of detailed information is irresponsible. Those in nearby communities who have taken the time to examine the facts are not in support of casinos. A full discussion of the costs and benefits should occur before anyone claims to represent opinion in the neighborhoods. The most impacted neighborhoods have not held meetings to discuss the issues at this point nor are they quoted in the story above. The story headline "most" also is misleading as several "leaders" did not feel they were in a position to take a position at this time. Several other neighborhoods were not contacted. Not a very good piece of journalism!
There is an attempt in Schenectady by the political leadership, developers, and seemingly the Gazette to push a rush to judgement. With more time and critical examination of the facts it is likely that citizens in Schenectady will not want a casino.

safny
April 30, 2014
12:58 p.m.

[ Flag Post ]

I am glad that people want to know a great deal more before jumping on the casino bandwagon. The chronically unemployed are not going to be suddenly working at high paying jobs in a casino. The very idea that the "overflow" will be moving into Mt. Pleasant or Hamilton Hill is absurd. This area does not have affordable, decent housing so if people wanted to move here to work - where would they live? Our elected officials are deluding themselves if they think that a casino will make miracles - and frankly, I would guess the process is already corrupted like most everything in NY politics - so I would not hold my breath for a casino here.

schdyres
April 30, 2014
3:19 p.m.

[ Flag Post ]

Are we to believe that Philip Morris and Ray Gillen know more about the casino developer's plans than the Schenectady City Council that was about to vote to alter the zoning code? Scary! Let's get the open and public discussion underway.

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