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Don't accept rosy predictions for downtown casino

Tuesday, May 13, 2014
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Don't accept rosy predictions for downtown casino

Your May 2 editorial ignored The Gazette's own article from the prior day [May 1], which explains why Schenectady City Council President Peggy King tabled a casino zoning resolution: She did not have the votes to pass it. Ms. King wants to vote as soon as her arm-twisting achieves a council majority.

It is irresponsible for politicians to merely accept rosy predictions from interested parties, professional development cheerleaders and businessmen expecting to partner with a casino. We should thank any council member who refuses to be rushed or pushed into supporting the covert Alco casino.

Urban casinos are risky endeavors, requiring serious analysis. The New York State Gaming Task Force Report to the governor (1996), which favored upstate casinos, said: 1) Stand-alone casinos draw far fewer people from outside the area than a resort-style casino, meaning relatively few overnight stays and a 150-mile market area impacted by nearby casinos; and 2) Most regular casino customers come from within a 25-mile radius, making the casino simply part of the local leisure marketplace (draining dollars from others).

The report also warned of potential crime problems at and near urban casinos, including "prostitution, panhandling, pick-pocketing and purse snatching"; economic crimes by pathological gamblers; and vehicle-related crimes like DUI and automobile break-ins. Such crime is especially worrisome for the nearby Stockade, which was granted historic district protection specifically to preserve its residential characteristics. Street crime and constant drive-through traffic will hurt quality of life in the Stockade, where 55.6 percent of voters said "no" last November to any upstate casinos.

The small, boutique casino promised by some supporters would still be a crime magnet. Moreover, the Site Location Board states it is primarily looking for the maximum amount of capital investment, tax revenue generation, good jobs and quality "amenities." A mini-casino can't achieve those goals and is unlikely to be proposed.

Schenectady is not desperate enough to risk a casino; it has better development options. Those who want gaming will soon have other casinos within easy driving distance.

David Giacalone


Energy plan has info on greenhouse gases

Tom Ellis' letter, "NYSERDA full of hot air but lacks info on greenhouse gases," is off the mark.

The Draft New York State Energy Plan reflects an integrated effort by the state to increase renewable energy and energy efficiency, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and maintain reliable energy systems that provide affordable energy to New Yorkers. The draft plan identifies strategies that are needed to transform the state's energy sector into one that is reliable and resilient and will drive economic growth.

The plan clearly states the state's direction to implement strategies to reduce the intensity of carbon emissions in the energy sector by 50 percent by 2030, putting New York on a pathway to emissions reductions of 80 percent by 2050. It should be noted that the key findings of the greenhouse gas inventory and the energy efficiency and renewable energy potential study are reflected in Volume II of the draft plan.

We also need to correct Mr. Ellis' greenhouse gas emissions forecast. The 9 percent emissions reduction in 2030 he cited reflects a "status quo" emissions reduction level if no new policies or programs are carried out as identified in the draft plan.

We expect action on the plan, which establishes a baseline from which new approaches to emissions reductions will be designed, in order to meet the 50 percent intensity reduction level.

A transformed energy sector requires new approaches.

The draft plan highlights some of these new innovative approaches, such as the New York Green Bank, which will help drive private investment and foster increasing levels of energy efficiency and renewable energy, and the New York Sun program, which will drive growth in the state's solar industry and make solar technology more affordable.

These initiatives and other market and technology innovations will help New York contribute to global, long-term greenhouse gas-emission reductions and will address climate change.

The public can submit comments on the draft plan through May 30 at

John B. Rhodes


The writer is president and CEO of NYSERDA and chair of the Energy Planning Board.

Allowing murals may help reduce graffiti

Regarding Sara Foss's May 6 column, "Seeing graffiti in a whole new blight": Graffiti in the city of Schenectady has been an ongoing problem that the city administration needs to realize that if you keep combating a problem with a solution that does not work, change the approach to the solution.

There is no question that graffiti is everywhere and on everything. Many times, the tags are hateful words or markings toward a certain group of people or religion, making it very intimidating to see. The approach Councilwoman Leesa Perazzo has championed, enlisting teens assigned by the courts to carry out community service to eradicate the graffiti problem, is a small step in the right direction.

The real problem is that the amount of graffiti outpaces the ability of the teens to clean it up. During Mayor Al Jurczynski's administration, he purchased an excellent graffiti cleaner product and distributed it to staff. Along with the mayor, they attacked the city's graffiti problem, which only led to recidivism by the graffiti artists.

I suggest Ms. Perazzo go to City Hall and have a conversation with City Clerk Chuck Thorne. Many years ago, before Chuck was employed by the city, I was meeting the city neighborhood associations promoting city initiatives, and Chuck happened to be promoting murals for the city of Schenectady as a way of combating graffiti. This has been proven successful in major cities across the United States.

Chuck had statistics on how areas where murals were promoted decreased graffiti by staggering numbers. The teens from the different neighborhoods would have contests for the murals that they produced to represent their part of the city.

There was a sense of pride in the murals and the statistics showed that the murals were rarely vandalized.

It is time for a new approach to an old problem. Just ask Chuck.

Steven Jacobson




May 13, 2014
9:24 a.m.
+0 votes
JoeK says...

Mr. Giacalone it is easy to be critical of something but what plan do you have to redevelop our city,produce thousands of jobs and lower our taxes?

May 13, 2014
10:08 a.m.
+1 votes
dagiacalone says...

JoeK, Is it your idea of good leadership for our elected officials to jump on a bandwagon without kicking the tires and peeking behind the rosy promises? If no one is allowed to speak out against a bad idea, or at least urge caution and raise questions, without a viable alternate plan, you'd have a lot more free time. Should we automatically accept any large project willing to come to Schenectady because we want our taxes to be lower (even though there is never any guarantee that taxes would go down)? Maybe we could have a Stockade Maximum Security Prison, or Goose Hill Garbage and Nuclear Waste Dump.
How many net jobs will be produced by a casino? Would they be quality jobs that go to Schenectadians? What competing "leisure" and tourist businesses that have stuck it out in Schenectady will go under or move to the suburbs? Check out the unemployment rate in Atlantic City over the past few decades with its casinos. It is consistently higher than the county around it and the entire state of New Jersey. Also please look into crime rates around the casinos and in towns along major roads leading to the casinos, and visit the neighborhoods beyond the casino district to see if they are thriving. Also, you better call ahead before heading out to eat at any Atlantic City restaurant that existed before the casinos arrived.
Schenectady is not so desperate that it needs to risk the quality of life of its people on a big gamble like a casino, which we cannot wish away once it arrives, no matter how many problems it creates and promises fail to come true. What is it worth to you in reduced taxes, if Schenectady continues to be known for what it used to be, and is saddled with the image of a city with so little hope it risked its future on being just one of numerous casino towns within a two or three hour drive?

May 13, 2014
11:53 a.m.
-1 votes
JoeK says...

Again what is your plan to move our city forward? I would listen but you do not have one.It is easy to condemn something but without an alternative its bogus.

May 14, 2014
9:48 a.m.
-1 votes

Great. a 12309 carpetbagger needs to mentor a council member.


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