April 15 public hearing set for casino


By David Avitabile

After supervisors have debated two months on whether Schoharie County would be a good home for a casino, residents will get their say later this month.
In February supervisors turned down a resolution to bring a casino to the county, but in March they approved the resolution, with a provision that a public hearing be held.
The public hearing is scheduled tentatively for Tuesday, April 15 from 7 to 9pm in the Cobleskill-Richmondville auditorium. The county is still waiting for approval by C-R.
Supervisors approved the resolution on March 21 after presentation from Howe Caverns officials on sighting a casino on their property. County leaders voted down a resolution supporting a casino at the caverns before voting in favor of a more general resolution supporting a resolution in the county.
Schoharie Supervisor Gene Milone introduced the casino resolution in February but in March came out against the legislation earmarking Howe Caverns as the site. On Monday, he said, he would support the caverns location if it is the only possible site in the county.
When debating the resolution in March, Mr. Milone argued against specifying Howe Caverns as a site, noting that several other property owners had contacted him about possibly having a casino on their land.
On Monday, Mr. Milone said there were several "land rich individuals" who contacted him saying that their land "would serve as a perfect site for a casino."
Some other business owners have also expressed an interest, he added.
Mr. Milone would not "name names" on who was interested but said it was a "couple of people...not even a handful."
He did not know if any of those interested requested an application from the state before the March 31 deadline.
Being contacted by other property owners did not sway his vote to not support Howe Caverns as the sole location.
He would have had the same opinion, he continued, even if he was not contacted.
Mr. Milone hopes the state will pick Schoharie County as an Upstate site.
"I wish them (Howe Caverns) the best. I wish anyone interested the best...If they're the only one to be in, they have my support."
Mr. Milone pointed to a boost in tourism and economic development as some of the reasons he supports a casino in the county.
A casino, he added, will attract other nearby businesses.
Also coming out in favor of siting a casino in the county this week was Sheriff Tony Desmond.
A casino, according to the Sheriff, "would have no real impact on our public safety."
The additional jobs and opportunities for residents "would deter crime that otherwise occur in a tough economy."
He stated he would welcome working with the management of a casino to develop a comprehensive plan for the overall security at the site, adjacent properties and "the county as whole."
The final determination on where upstate casinos will be built will be determined by a five-member state board.