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January 29, 2012

Hub or Bust for Nassau County

It seems like with New York state and Governor Cuomo supporting a plan to build a full scale casino and convention center at the Aqueduct Raceway the plan for having an entertainment center at Belmont is dead.  Long Island Press just wrote an article explaining that the Belmont Casino and entertainment center is all but done.
  “The governor throwing his weight behind the Aqueduct project means that Belmont becoming a major casino facility is dead,” says Assemb. Fred Thiele Jr. (D-Bridgehampton).

“I’d say it’s pretty much dead,” says Joe Rizza, a spokesman for state Sen. Jack Martins (R-Mineola). “A casino is not going to be in the future for Belmont. However, we’re still going to look for economic development, but it’s got to be something that both Elmont and the Floral Park communities embrace. Floral Park really wasn’t on board.”
Mitchell Pally, chief executive officer of the Long Island Builders Institute, agrees.
“Obviously it’s going to be much more difficult to do at Belmont what they originally intended to do with the tremendous plans for Aqueduct, but that doesn’t mean that there are not other things that can be done at Belmont,” says Pally. “Duplicating both activities 10 miles apart is going to be very difficult.”
John Durso, president of the Long Island Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO, had preferred a casino at Belmont but, he says, “If the governor sees Aqueduct as the place, that’s where it’s going to go. He’s been pretty persuasive in getting things done!”
The growing consensus among the Long Island’s politically connected development community that the plan for a casino at Belmont was “dead” seemed to catch the Shinnecocks off guard.
“Well, we don’t know that, and we don’t have a comment on that at the moment,” says the tribe’s spokeswoman, Beverly Jensen. “We are still evaluating the situation.”
She says she was “sure” that the tribe would “work something out with the developer. I don’t know what, I don’t know when.”
Marguerite Smith, a member of the Shinnecocks and an attorney, says she is more focused on the opportunities to improve the conditions of her tribe presented by the federal recognition.
“We’re working on the health, education and social services needs of our people,” she says, mentioning increased scholarship aid, mortgage guarantees and legal rights in family court. She had nothing to say about the casino negotiations.
Randy King, chairman of the Shinnecock trustees, did not comment for this story. Nor did Gateway Resorts, which is owned by Marion Ilitch of Little Caesars Pizza and developer Michael Malik, who have been involved financially with the tribe’s efforts to gain federal recognition since 2004.
David Calone, Suffolk’s planning chairman, says the tribe should concentrate on their home county if it wants a gambling casino.
“It doesn’t make sense for them to be in Nassau where they will be competing with Aqueduct,” he says.
Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre) has said he’s basically open to Cuomo’s plans for Aqueduct, but he still has hopes for Belmont.
“Working with Senator Martins and others, Senator Skelos will continue to do everything he can to achieve the best possible plan for developing Belmont, so we can create good jobs and help the surrounding communities,” ...

With the Belmont option gone the only hope for the Islanders staying in Nassau is at the current location.  The question is, what is Ed Mangano's plan that he has teased for weeks by saying he isn't ready to release it yet?  If its the same plan he had after the August 1st failed referendum of finding a private investor, the Islanders fate in Nassau County might be sealed.  The only way a private investor would consider taking on the project with an arena part of it is by increasing the zoning so they could make a profit.  Whoever wants to try that, I offer them all the luck in the world working with Kate Muarry, and he 1950's mindset of suburbia .  Even the people in Mangano's administration are losing faith in keeping the Islanders.
a source in Executive Ed Mangano’s administration said, “It will be a small miracle if they can even get it off the ground and keep the team here.  I really believe the Isles are going to Brooklyn, barring divine intervention.”
 Once Mangano releases his plan we should now a lot more about the Islanders future in Nassau County.

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