Details on another of the five proposed casino developments for Orange County were unveiled during a public forum Tuesday night. This proposal comes with a goal of revitalizing an airport.
Representatives of Alabama-based Greenetrack revealed some of the details of a proposed casino development next to Stewart International Airport in New Windsor.
“I feel right at home here, and that’s why I want to operate here.”
That’s Greenetrack President and CEO Luther Winn:
“When people ask, can Greenetrack pull this off? They’re a small operation in Alabama. I remind folks that you never heard of Donald Trump before he took over a rundown hotel in the middle of New York City and rebuilt it as the Grand Hyatt," says Winn. "We’re starting a similar kind of story here.”
What he wants to start is a $500 million hotel and casino – a 14 story hotel, seven restaurants, some 100,000 square feet of gambling space for 3,000 slot machines and 75 gaming tables, a conference center, performing arts center, and more. The aim, says his management team, is to attract visitors from all over the Northeast--New York to Scranton, Pennsylvania; Albany to Hartford, Connecticut—and beyond. Robert McLaughlin, former director of the New York Lottery, is counsel for Greenetrack, and emphasizes the company’s partnership approach to benefit regional businesses and attractions.
“We’d like to partner, as we talked about, with other areas, other retailers, other companies in the area and try to have those facilities have our guests and our patrons, our players take advantage of those facilities that are already established in the area or those that we can help establish in the area, like a potential for a new gymnasium or the partnership with existing golf courses,” McLaughlin says.
The Greenetrack team took questions from audience members, who wanted to know more about issues like the economic impact on surrounding communities, water supply, strain on local police and emergency responders, environmental issues, revenues for surrounding school districts, and traffic.
“Hi, my name is Kay and I reside in New Windsor. My concern is the traffic flow in New Windsor. We don’t have a lot of big roads or main highways connecting to New Windsor.”
Project engineer Drew Reilly says there is a highway that was already constructed for a much larger project that was never completed. That’s International Boulevard, or 747, which connects to Interstate 84 and the New York State Thruway.
The Catskills and Hudson Valley is one of three regions targeted for casino development in New York. Republican Orange County Executive Steve Neuhaus acknowledges there has been tension with some in Sullivan and Ulster Counties, for which there are five proposals combined. Neuhaus makes no apology - but notes traffic is a prominent concern.
“We’re going to get the traffic anyway. Anybody in this room that’s ever been to Atlantic City or Foxwoods, the only way, the only time you stop on the way there is to pull over to get gas or go to the bathroom," says Neuhaus. "That’s the impact, or that’s the benefit, really, that our community, Orange County as a whole, will get with the casinos north of us. We wish them the best. I love Sullivan county, love Ulster County, but I’m here as your county executive. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. You’re not going to have this two or three years from now.”
Greenetrack management says the proposed development would create more than 1,800 union construction jobs, and some 2,500 permanent jobs starting above minimum wage. Charlie King is Greenetrack’s community outreach advisor.
“We mentioned there’s Newburgh, Middletown, other places right here that would be transformed if we do our job right in working with the Orange County government and New Windsor," King says. "And so, yes, Sullivan and Ulster had a head start, I joked about it, since the Lincoln Administration, but Orange County by leaps and bounds has caught up.”
The more than 100 people gathered in the New Windsor Community Center included residents from both the town as well as surrounding communities and county legislators. New Windsor Democratic Legislator Christopher Euchus was among them.
“New Windsor has the best site," says Euchus. "We need this. We want it. That’s all there is to it.”
The New Windsor Town Board has not yet voted on whether to support the proposal. Its support is required for the project to move forward.