Comments by dagiacalone
Posted on March 17 at 12:33 p.m. (Suggest removal)
When the possibility of there being a Casino here was first in the news, the Malozzis were very quick to say how great the Casino would be for Schenectady and that it would not hurt Downtown businesses. We'll have to wait to see just how business owners fare who are not in the Galesi-Metroplex-Casino Inner Circle.
Mr. Buicko seems to forget that there is supposed to be plenty of green space at Mohawk Harbor, with limitations on the footprint total of the structures. Let's hope the Planning Commission, or better yet the Planning Staff upfront, remind him. I'm fairly sure the new PC Chair, Mary Wallinger, with her landscape architecture background, is a lot more likely to insist on green space than Mr. Lewis, who never seems to take off his Metroplex hat, would be. Since Mohawk Harbor has rejected full public access to the riverbank, and is limiting it to "hiking and biking" on the Trail, it cannot claim footprint bonuses due to extra public access.
Posted on March 15 at 1:22 a.m. (Suggest removal)
p.s. I sent the points in the prior Comment to City Council and to Reporter Vicarro around 2 PM Monday afternoon.
Posted on March 15 at 1:18 a.m. (Suggest removal)
There are many reasons to reject the name "Rush Street", and many more reasons to honor the history and contributions of ALCO and its workforce at Mohawk Harbor. Honoring our past with a name like American Locomotive Way (or Street or Drive) would be an important reminder to our residents and visitors of our proud and productive past, and of our faith in a future filled with achievements beyond the narrow scope of the gaming industry. It would also recognize that Mohawk Harbor and its Casino can be an Engine for Economic Growth in Schenectady, without also suggesting that Schenectady should be or somehow already is proud of the City's role in the Gaming Industry and related businesses. The casino may bring jobs and added revenues, but it will never bring us civic pride, much less help America win a war or create important new technology.
Why is "Rush Street" an inappropriate name?
1. Virtually no one in our City or the likely geographic area of the casino's market knows what Rush Street Chicago is. The few that do would only be disappointed to see its pale reflection here. Rush Street Schenectady will be almost as different from its Chicago namesake as our Wall Street is to the one in Manhattan.
2. Rush Street Chicago was named after Benjamin Rush, a prominent physician and signer of the Declaration of Independence. But, Dr. Rush was a major force against gaming and drunkenness, and tried to ban them in our new Constitution. He surely would decline the "honor" of having his name plastered on every Casino brochure.
3. The drug connections with the word "rush" should alone make the name anathema for our casino compound.
4. Naming the Street after Rush Street Gaming is at best premature and would be proof that Fools Rush In. Rush Street Gaming has yet to prove that it will be a good corporate neighbor or citizen in Schenectady. There is plenty of proof that RSG asks for much and gives virtually nothing it is not forced by law to give. It has been far more generous at its other casino locations with extra funding for local development and community services, and general mitigation of impact expenses. In addition, in 2012, like good businessmen, Neil Bluhm and Greg Carlin sold their Riverwalk Casino in Vicksburg, Miss., only four years after it opened. That makes the Rush Street connection less than solid.
Honoring our ALCO history and signaling our belief in a future that will once again be productive and worthy of civic pride are goals that point strongly to rejection of the street name Rush Street. For more on this topic, with links to related materials, see http://tinyurl.com/RushStWrong
Posted on March 13 at 11:17 a.m. (Suggest removal)
It is a pretty good bet that there will be many more young problem gamblers in Schenectady when the casino opens. For a discussion and links to materials (including Rush Street Gaming's targeting of young gamblers), see http://tinyurl.com/CollegeCasino
I hope that the psychology and sociology departments (and related disciplines) at SCCC, and Union College, will help its students and our community learn about the impact and prevention of problem gambling and the social impact of urban casinos on their communities. And, I hope the Gazette will start some in depth coverage of these issues and possible solutions.
Posted on March 7 at 1:04 p.m. (Suggest removal)
Re PILOTS, Ms. Viccaro, please ask Mr. Gillen to explain what he means by "Now folks are paying basically the market rate tax levels that make us competitive." He certainly does not mean they are paying property taxes as if they were assessed at market value. Does he mean 1) paying a rate that would allow the developer a big enough profit to be willing to come to Schenectady, or to be able to charge a sales price or rent low enough to attract tenants or buyers to Schenectady? Or, 2) a rate that makes Schenectady competitive with development honchos and politicians in other municipalities trying to attract development? Or, 3) Something else?
We could also use some details on just who is getting those jobs and how the reality compares to the promised number of jobs, what "recurring revenues" are actually coming in during the life of the PILOTS, and just how the residents of our County are seeing a "great return on investment."
Posted on March 6 at 8:47 p.m. (Suggest removal)
This opinion piece raises important issues that require thoughtful consideration, and not the seat-of-the-pants lawmaking and rubber-stamp approval process so loved by Mayor McCarthy. It appears to be another situation where the Mayor has dreamt up a zoning change to help a particular class of developer without doing the research, acquiring the stats and facts, or engaging in the discussion of alternatives and unintended consequences that would allow thoughtful consideration by the Planning Commission or the public. There clearly is no urgency that requires quick action, although there may be a developer/contributor pressing for a quick change in the law.
Anyone who has lived in a truly walkable City knows that downtown Schenectady is far from that goal (in good weather, much less bitter cold or shadeless Downtown summers). The prospective tenants sought after by the Development Cheerleaders will almost all have cars or want one as soon as it is affordable -- to get to a real grocery or apparel store, or to participate in rural recreation, or drive home from the sort of professional job that requires long, often uncontrollable hours. When they realize there is no convenient, inexpensive, or safe place to park in the early or late evening, they'll be looking elsewhere for an upper-market place to live.
The Planning Commission was given about one sentence in writing to explain the many, complex changes to Waterfront zoning demanded by the casino last year. The City Council was given virtually no explanation for the Mayor's successful request to have the unfettered authority to greatly increase parking meter fees, and to start charging in the evening and on weekends and holidays. No outsider with any background in planning, zoning law, or common sense can look at how such important decisions are made and still think of Schenectady as a Smart City.
Smart Cities do more than hook up dimmer switches to light fixtures. They do their homework to learn the needs of the residents and businesses, to see what other cities have done in similar situations, to realistically gauge the effects of a proposed change, and to encourage a discussion before even considering voting on major changes or asking the public to respond without the benefit of necessary background information and time.
Posted on March 6 at 7:41 p.m. (Suggest removal)
Thanks for reminding the community how mportant and fragile the Stockade is. Protecting the Stockade will take vigilance and dollars, and people willing to tell City Hall when it is being shortsighted or wrongheaded.
Posted on March 5 at 7:04 p.m. (Suggest removal)
Schaffer, you are welcome to go to my website and read about the studies that are the basis for my concerns. A good place to start is http://tinyurl.com/RiversCasinoCrime
I have no crystal ball, which might be why I used the word "likely". Predictions are a bit difficult for we mere mortals, and I have no idea how much police presence will be placed near the casino (or where displacement crime might happen). Rush Street's conclusion in its Application for the Casino license is that crime will surely go up if you have more people coming to an area, but no more than if the casino were a big-box store. That seems to have convinced the folks at City Hall and the Gazette. I decided to dig a bit deeper before drawing my own conclusions.
Posted on March 5 at 3:33 p.m. (Suggest removal)
Did the Gazette decide to ignore the Big Casino Elephant in the room (down the block), or did Pres. Ainlay? A casino owner famously working to attract young gamblers, and with 24/7 alcohol being served, locating one block from the largest dormitory of a college famous for partying and drinking hard, for having lots of disposable income, and, according to recent news reports, quite a few fake IDs. A casino likely to mean more crime (including prostitution, DUI, auto-theft, drugs) will be a short stroll from the entire campus. Do any questions come to mind for the Gazette to ask Mr. Ainslay? Does he hope prospective student parents won't notice the huge Rivers Casino branding signage?
There is a significant amount of literature and scholarship on college students and gambling, including the increased susceptibility of younger gamblers, alcohol’s connection to problem gambling, and the connection between proximity and increased gambling. The Handout on Problem Gambling from Union College’s Wicker Wellness Center, notes, ”Gambling is in some ways a ‘norm’ among college students. The most popular games are casino activities such as cards and gambling machines.”
For more information see http://tinyurl.com/CollegeCasino
Posted on March 5 at 10:54 a.m. (Suggest removal)
This is another project that directly benefits Rush Street Gaming and Mohawk Harbor and they should be directly helping to pay for it. Mayor McCarthy and Metroplex chief Ray Gillen should have already used their leverage to pry traffic system mitigation expenses from both Rush Street and Galesi Group. That is especially true, given how adept Galesi is at figuring out how to achieve tax breaks with its construction projects. Rush Street and the Mayor keep pointing to the expected revenues that the casino must by law pay to the State, County and City, to offset all its added costs to the City, but the NYS Racing Commission specifically said that those tax obligations should NOT be counted when making mitigation agreements with a host community.
At the Montreign Resort Casino, the casino developer and the fee owner of the property have agreed to pay an estimated $7.7 million for traffic mitigation measures. Its traffic mitigation proposal “served as a partial basis for the Town of Thompson approving the site plan for the project.”
In Tyre, NY, the Lago casino developer Wilmott estimates it will pay well over $4 million dollars for traffic mitigation measures.
And, tellingly, at its Des Plaines Rivers Casino, Rush Street agreed to contribute up to $3 million to complete construction of an unfunded, nearby interstate highway exchange, and to contribute up to 3% of its pre-tax annual income, up to $5 million, for economic development projects.
We've been providing the Gazette newspaper with this information and similar facts for almost a year. For links to materials verifying the above information, and for additional similar facts, go to