Thursday, September 29, 2011

Mayor: Don't approve Shinnecock Casino Scheme at Belmont Park at the Expense of the Surrounding Communities

Mayor Thomas J. Tweedy
Floral Park, New York

Mayor’s Message Village of Floral Park: September 29. 2011

We continue to relate our 2007 Statement of Principles not to a state controlled VLT operation but rather a Shinnecock controlled Indian full gaming casino. This week, we further examine our relationship with NYRA and an equitable future relationship with Belmont Park.

Be an Economic Engine for, and Be a Part of, Your Neighboring Communities

VIII. The facilities must continue to be an economic engine generating jobs and business for the communities in which each is located. It must be ensured that local residents and businesses are protected from any adverse economic impact as a result of activities at the facilities. Local residents should be given preference when hiring at the facilities and local businesses be given preferred status, including as suppliers, vendors and service providers. Creating an overall business and service center should be considered, with the goal of generating additional revenue streams to benefit the surrounding communities.

Be a Part of, Instead of Apart From, Your Neighboring Communities

IX. The facilities should become an integral presence within the communities in which each is located. This includes the support of and the participation in active civic and volunteer life as a pillar of the neighboring communities in which the facility exists. This includes the support and participation in annual community events and the inclusion of the local communities in events taking place at each facility, including but not limited to, world renowned thoroughbred horse racing events taking place at the facilities and recreational areas to groups and organizations in the surrounding communities.

Floral Park has steadily forged a stronger bond with its Belmont Park neighbors over the past several years. For example, NYRA President Charles Hayward graciously accepted Floral Park’s invitation to participate in our public hearing discussing Belmont Park during which he took that opportunity to publicly announce support of our Statement of Principles. Floral Park understands that Belmont Park is a vital component of our local economy, with the potential to bring even more jobs and revenues now that the State of New York has taken control over the 435-acre property from NYRA. In many ways, Governor Andrew Cuomo has an even greater moral responsibility to protect the interests of his constituents surrounding Belmont Park than any of his predecessors, who could pass the buck to NYRA when it previously controlled Belmont Park. One thing that is now clear, however, is that whatever goes on at Belmont Park is the responsibility of our elected representatives in Albany and no longer merely a group of thoroughbred horse owners.

Should legalized gambling facilities be expanded at Belmont Park, it is important that the local community gets our fair share of the economic benefits that may be generated. This includes not just during the initial construction phase, but also in the revenue stream of thousands of permanent jobs that may be created for years to come should the Shinnecock Indian Nation be allowed to develop a full scale casino and hotel facility at Belmont Park; Floral Park’s long-standing relationship with NYRA should be expanded to include the Shinnecock Indian Nation’s presence at Belmont Park too. Just as NYRA has made strides to become more involved in the civic, business and social fabric of Floral Park, the Shinnecock Nation or any other new tenant at Belmont Park must be required to embrace their new neighbors rather than take advantage of us or, worse, just ignore us.

The State of New York has a once in a generation opportunity to make Belmont Park the cornerstone of a renaissance and rejuvenation of western Nassau County that could propel our community into the rest of the century with a solid and stable economic base. All of our elected representatives, especially those in Albany, need to seriously consider any proposed changes at Belmont Park and to conduct a comprehensive due diligence review, in order to ensure that promises of quick and short term revenue infusions from Belmont Park are not done at the expense of the surrounding communities. Floral Park has demonstrated that it takes its relationship with its next-door neighbor at Belmont Park seriously and it expects the same commitment from anyone else who else wants to become new neighbors with us. It is important that any new neighbors at Belmont Park make a sincere commitment to take care of Floral Park, rather than leaving Floral Park with no other choice but it protect its interests any way it can in order to keep Floral Park a great place to live and raise a family. Floral Park has always been a good neighbor of Belmont Park and we deserve the same in return!

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