Albany casino proposal rejected by Town of Bethlehem

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Updated: 5/29 11:22 pm

ALBANY, N.Y. – The plans to build a casino off Exit 23 of the Thruway has been rejected by one local community, and the board hopes more communities in the area also weigh-in on the proposed Las Vegas-style casino.

The town of Bethlehem and the city of Albany have been reaching out to the public for their input on the proposed casino ever since a developer first announced plans to partner with Capital OTB. But now the town of Bethlehem said they don’t want the casino.

“It would be nice to see more information,” Bethlehem Town Supervisor John Clarkson said. “Frankly, there is less information out there than when the proposal first came out.”

Clarkson said the board voted down the E-23 proposal due to the lack of a solid proposal and frustration from residents.

Residents were also worried the casino would not provide the “economic development and fiscal relief” it was planned for, according to Clarkson.

The proposed site would be built just off Exit 23 of the Thruway. While the land is within the city of Albany, Bethlehem would still be impacted by a casino being built in that location.

“We want everyone to be good neighbors,” Clarkson continued. “We’re concerned about the city of Albany. We’re all one community, and we want the whole Capital Region to thrive.”

But Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan said the city is still willing to hear a final proposal from the developer.

“It’s not something that we ruled out,” she said. “We have a developer who is interested in making a significant investment in our city.”

Sheehan said Albany could use the casino because the city has a $16 million deficit.

“We are a city that is facing significant fiscal challenges,” she said.

Capital OTB President John Signor said in a statement, “We’ve said from the beginning our goal is to earn as much local support as possible. We’ve gone a long way in reaching that goal. As of last week, we’ve secured support from five Capital Region Counties, and we are confident we will have more County support. Local leaders recognize because of COTB’s unique role, more revenue will be distributed to local governments than any other proposal. While we are disappointed in Bethlehem’s decision, we know we have support from many Bethlehem residents.”

But Clarkson said residents aren’t sure it will become an economic engine or provide many jobs.

“People are very much concerned that a casino either won’t provide them [jobs] in a significant proportion or that the cost will simply outweigh the benefits,” he said.

Clarkson said resident concerns were enough for the board to veto the plan, but Sheehan said it’s too early to decide until they see a final proposal.

Clarkson hopes neighboring communities join the discussion about E-23. The city of Albany has not voted on any resolution concerning the E-23 casino and will not vote until they have seen an exact proposal.

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