Casino-Jamming in the Catskills

catskills.jpg

Way back in February Gov. Eliot Spitzer declared his support for a plan to build a $600 million casino in the Catskills. Now opponents of the St. Regis Mohawk tribe project, which would be located at the Monticello Racetrack in Sullivan County, have launched a public-relations campaign highlighting the traffic congestion and sprawl they say would result.

A billboard (above) on Route 17 directs the public to the website of Catskill Mountainkeeper, one of several groups opposing the development. The group hopes that the prospect of increased traffic on the already heavily traveled highway will prompt Catskill residents to lobby Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne, who has been sitting on the proposal for some time already, to turn down the application for what would be an "off-reservation" gaming facility. Among the project’s most avid supporters is Sen. Chuck Schumer.

  • Eric

    Why don’t they just build a 12-lane superduperhighway?

    Seriously, could this proposal be any worse? It’s bad enough that this nation’s brilliant solution for dealing with our collective guilt over the pillaging of native American lands is to bestow upon them the wonderful gift of casion gambling. Then we compound the bad idea by creating a traffic nightmare AND despoil scenic areas that I thought NY State had been working to preserve.

    It’s no wonder that lame-brained Senator Chuck Schumer is all over this. He could only love it more if it was using the government’s power of eminent domain to seize property from some law-abiding citizens (then again, it may be). And “reform” Governor Eliot Spitzer is certainly making us all proud that we awarded him some 70% of the popular vote last November.

    The State House needs to fall into a giant sinkhole so we can start over.

  • Spud Spudly

    Catskill casinos are also a threat to the city’s water supply system. None of the proposed sites are actually in the watershed but they’re close enough that their secondary development could threaten the water supply and the city’s deal with the feds to not filter the water.

    One of George Pataki’s most loathsome traits (and he had a lot of them) was his tendency to try to balance the State budget on the backs of problem gamblers. We could afford to lose the tax revenue to Jersey and Connecticut if it means avoiding all the problems inherent to casino gambling. NYS is already one of the biggest bookies in the world, with all kinds of lotteries, daily numbers, scratch-off games you can buy from vending machines, a keno-type game that serious problem gamblers can play every ten minutes all day long, and even OTB betting from home over the phone while you watch the races on government-sponsored cable TV. It’s really despicable.

  • Gretel

    If a casino’s off-reservation that mean that NYS and the federal government collect taxes on the revenue, which makes sense, because otherwise NYS would in no way support such a development. The State (well, and the state, obviously) has a despicable record when it comes to recognizing tribal sovereignty. So I tend to resent it when something like this gets such media attention, yet does anyone remember in 1985 when a group of Seneca blocked a highway near Salamanaca to attempt to prevent New York State Route 17 from plowing through their reservation? Let’s be honest: these issues involve more than environmental concerns.

    And you should know that Kempthorne is getting sued by the heirs of the American Indian trust: http://www.indiantrust.com/. I’m guessing that might just impact his opinion.

  • Ironically, some of the same high powered players behind the opposition were very happy to endorse Pataki for governor — twice before the Democratic challenger had been determined.

    A few journalists described Pataki’s environmentalism as essentially good or ok if you cared about forests and open spaces, but pathetic if you lived next to a chemical plant or garbage dump.

    Obviously most of the Moutainkeeper folks don’t live next to a garbage dump but probably get away to a Catskills retreat.

    I don’t support the casino which is probably an example where even on forests/open space matters Pataki wasn’t great, but do find it obnoxious that some of the elite enviros fighting the Catskills project empowered Pataki who then pursued a polluter friendly agenda in other areas where these elite enviros didn’t necessarily step up to help the local folks out.

    Certainly you don’t see their muscle being used against the Atlantic Yards ( of ex-Pataki roommate Bruce Ratner ) which is going to be a pollution and traffic disaster it seems.

    Just saying . . .

  • galvo

    maybe they can just pave the Hudson to get all the cars up there?

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