Orange County forms casino task force

GOSHEN — Orange County Executive Steve Neuhaus has formed a task force charged with examining local concerns about casinos, like traffic and infrastructure, as a deadline nears for casino developers to submit a $1 million application fee.

Neuhaus, who favors a casino landing in Orange County as long as it has local support, also hopes to have the Legislature pass a resolution supporting gaming in broad strokes. Municipalities must pass resolutions supporting specific projects as part of the state application process for gaming licenses.

The task force will also take up emergency services and potential tax revenue, Neuhaus said during Monday’s meeting of the county Economic Development Gaming Committee. The committee will work with the task force.

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The task force will include legislators, Neuhaus, Deputy County Executive Wayne Booth, Planning Commissioner David Church and staff from the Orange County Partnership.

The casino frenzy has reached a fever pitch as the April 23 deadline approaches for applicants to submit a $1 million fee.

Neuhaus expects “at least five” casino applications for Orange County sites.

Three have already been announced. They are Flaum Management’s proposal near the Harriman Metro-North station, Greenetrack’s project next to Stewart International Airport and a Blooming Grove project proposed by Cordish Company and Penn National Gaming.

Developers have also “seriously” looked at the City of Newburgh’s handful of viable sites, said Bill Fioravanti, the partnership’s director of business attraction. He said the county as a whole does not have many sites left that would meet casino specifications.

Gilbert Piaquadio, acting Town of Newburgh supervisor, said he’ll meet Wednesday with one of the casino companies “most serious” about building in the town.

Including proposals in Ulster and Sullivan counties, there are expected to be about a dozen applications filed in the Hudson Valley-Catskill region, which includes Orange, Ulster and Sullivan counties. The state will award a total of four total licenses across the state. The Hudson Valley-Catskill region has been expected to get two licenses.

Referring to an email campaign launched recently against Orange County casinos, Neuhaus said there could be “propaganda” in the battle for licenses. He added that things may “get a little ugly,” and that another goal of the task force will be to “filter fact from fiction.”

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