EAST GREENBUSH, N.Y. - Some East Greenbush residents filed a FOIL request to learn more about the Thompson Hill casino proposal.
A resolution was passed by the town board earlier this month in support of the $300 million resort and casino. However, residents of the have been divided on the proposal, including Don Johnson, a member of the newly formed Save East Greenbush group.
"Behind the scenes there were notes in some of the FOIL material, that we don't want to have more than one public meeting, if we have to have that because we don't want to make the same mistake they made down at Exit 23 with too many meetings with community input," said Johnson.
Johnson believes there was something more behind the town board's support of the proposal than meets the eye, so he filed a freedom of information request. He asked for, and later obtained, 22 pages of notes from six different meetings that involved building a casino.
The notes reveal that the developers met with town board members and that they discussed the best ways to promote the plan, including a public relations campaign, how best to respond to critics and more.
"The process appeared to me, looks like it was rigged. It looked like a political railroad job,” said Johnson.
Saratoga Casino and Raceway denied any impropriety.
The documents also showed that the developer wanted only one public meeting, stating that anymore and it would promote the negative side.
“No intention at all was there of any influence forced upon the board members at all,” said Town Supervisor Keith Langley.
Langley explained what was behind the meetings.
"We met with the casino owner, operator and he wanted an opportunity to meet with the board members and I provided that opportunity, it was just an informal session where the board members had the chance to meet with him and question him,” he said.
The plan became public in April when developers announced their interest in building the casino on Thompson Hill Road. Developers expected the business to bring 1,700 construction jobs and another 1,700 jobs once the casino opens.
Earlier this week, it was announced that the eight-story hotel and casino would be named Capital View Casino & Resort if East Greenbush won the bid for a Las Vegas-style casino license in New York.
On Wednesday morning, Saratoga Casino and Raceway and Churchill Downs Inc., announced Mazzone Hospitality would run the steakhouse at the casino and destination resort.
Final proposals for casinos are due on June 30. The State Gaming Commission, the group tasked with selecting where casinos will go, said it won’t consider a casino license application without the resolution.
There are 18 groups vying for four licenses that will be granted in the Capital Region, Finger Lakes Region and the Catskills.