The operator of the Resorts World Casino New York City at Aqueduct Racetrack has taken the wraps off its proposed casino development for an Orange County town. Several area residents spoke in opposition of the proposal, but the town board has not yet taken a position.
(from video presentation) "...We would like to introduce the next chapter in this 238-acre site’s storied history – the world-class Sterling Forest Resort. Located on a remote site buffered by over two miles of forest from the Town of Tuxedo and Tuxedo Park, residents will see minimal impact from the resort…”
Nearly 20 area residents spoke out in opposition to the proposed casino resort from Genting during a packed Tuxedo Town Board meeting Monday night, questioning such minimal impact and citing concerns about crime, gambling in general, and preserving the forest. Tuxedo resident Tony Davidson lives some two miles from the proposed resort. He says his town should not be for sale.
“If this project goes through, this will not be the Tuxedo you know, the mountain and forest community you moved to or grew up in and still lay claim to,” says Davidson. “It will be owned by someone else and it will be beholden to them. There will be no going back.”
Sterling Forest Resort is from Resorts World, the leisure brand of Malaysia-based Genting Group. Orange County Executive Steve Neuhaus, who notes his county was not even in play six months ago for one of the four casino licenses that will be granted, says the rather last-minute onslaught of such large proposed developments is tough on local communities.
“The difficult thing that we have in Orange County is that this is such an accelerated timeline, and people are hearing about this last minute,” says Neuhaus. “So it’s very difficult to go through that.”
However, he does not want to miss out on revenues that could be headed for the Catskills.
“We’re going to get all the traffic right now,” Neuhaus says. “They’re going up to Sullivan or Ulster County on the Thruway to 17m, and we’re going to get none of the tax revenues for it.”
Christian Goode is senior vice president of development for Genting Americas.
“Our proposal is focused on creating an entertainment destination,” Goode says. “It’s not just one amenity. It’s not just one thing. From a high-end hotel spa to ski, world-class adventure park to a Renaissance Faire to open-air entertainment to a small casino will be all the amenities that we offer.”
The Route 17A property has long hosted the New York Renaissance Faire, and Genting proposes adding a fall festival, ice and and snow festival, and spring festival. Genting would upgrade the ski center, put in zip lines for year-round use, and resurrect the Sterling Forest gardens, among other plans. Genting also proposes the construction of a new interchange connecting the New York State Thruway with Routes 17 and 17a, privately funding it at a cost of some $25 million.
Tuxedo resident Bridget Morris says she is outraged that such a proposal is even before the town.
“Please don’t be sucked in by these promises of jobs,” Morris pleads. “This is an affluent community. We make more money here than the average American household.”
Genting’s Goode says the proposal would bring construction jobs and, if realized, create 2,000 positions with an average pay of $50,000, which a New Windsor resident who was downsized by a large company says he finds attractive.
Tuxedo Town Supervisor Michael Rost says the board has not made up its mind.
“I’m keeping an open mind,” says Rost. “There are plenty of people who have reached out to me prior to this meeting to say they support it. And at the end of the day it’s the town board’s responsibility to do what’s best for the town. And we’re going to listen to everybody.”
“My gut feeling, like everybody’s tonight, originally, was no way, we don’t want a casino in Tuxedo.”
He says that as he learned more over the past two months, he felt it was time to roll out the proposal to the public. He says neither he nor the town board members have decided whether to support Genting’s proposal. If a town board does not provide the required letter of support for the developer to submit by June 30, the proposal for that town is dead.
Genting rounds out five proposals for Orange County, though Neuhaus suspects, given some of the filing names, more could come to the table.
“And we believe there are two other ones that are floating out there that haven’t really, basically, contacted the county or the local municipality or they might be working without us knowing it right now,” says Neuhaus.
In all, 22 applications with the required $1 million fee were submitted to a state gambling panel April 23. About 12 are for the Catskills and Hudson Valley region.