We are getting through. Our opposition to a casino in East Greenbush is documented far and wide. Still, the developers have money and lawyers and town politicians who are all too willing to accommodate them. We must show up again, next Wednesday, October 8 at 7pm at Columbia High School. It is the Public Hearing on what must be included in the environmental review of the project. WITHOUT A COMPLETED ENVIRONMENTAL REVIEW, THEY WILL NOT BE AWARDED A GAMING LICENSE.
They want to fast track this process. The time problem is of their own making. They should have started the State Environmental Quality Review (SEQR) process five months ago. Instead, the developers were busy mailing out promotional flyers and having back room meetings trying to limit public input. We must show up to voice our concerns about the environmental impact of this project to force them to do a thorough and rigorous review.
A flyer to download and distribute is at this link: Planning Hearing pdf (Print just the first page or make it two-sided.)
Here are some areas of concern we request they address. Please read these over and consider a few for your comments next week.
Fiscal. Their fiscal impact analysis relies on the study done be Spectrum Gaming Group. This "study" is highly biased and makes conclusions that are vastly inconsistent with the findings of New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli and several bond rating agencies. We request that the EG Planning Board as Lead Agency arrange for an independent analysis of the Spectrum findings. We suggest that the Town contact State Comptroller DiNapoli and request that the staff from his office, who recently studied the fiscal impact of casinos, do this analysis. We require that an independent analysis of the impact on local businesses, which are now in an early state of financial recovery, be undertaken. This must include, but not be limited to, comparison with comparable case studies and a thorough analysis of existing area businesses.
Additionally, the casino operator should provide details about its "host community payments." Unless these details are in the EIS, they can't be in the Findings Statement, and if they're not in the Findings Statement, they can't be enforced.
Social. 6NYCRR Part 617.1(d) states, "It is not the intention of SEQR that environmental factors be the sole consideration in decision making.", but that " human and community resources should be given appropriate weight with social and economic considerations...and that those factors be considered in reaching decisions on proposed activities." If the lead agency does not require thorough descriptions of social and economic impacts, and mitigations, it will be violating its responsibilities under SEQR.
The developer's applications, both to the Town and to the State, gloss-over the social impacts and costs of problem gambling. Save East Greenbush has brought several speakers to the community on this topic. There have also been a number of studies done on the subject. Particular attention should be paid to fiscal impacts on communities closest to casinos. We request that the Lead Agency arrange for an independent study (done at the applicant's expense) of the fiscal and social impacts of problem gambling.
Traffic. The casino plan calls for widening Route 4 from I-90 to Route 43 so another lane can be added. The DEIS should provide specific information about how that widening will take place, including acquisition of additional right-of-way, and effects on properties fronting Route 4. The right-of -way in some of the corridor they want to widen appears to be of insufficient width to allow another lane without taking adjoining private property. How do they propose to gain this property?
Additionally, Route 4 is not the only road that will be affected. Third Avenue Extension, Luther Road, Route 151, Best Road, Werking Road, Upper Mannix, Route 43, Columbia Turnpike. Traffic in many residential areas is already increasing. How will they mitigate the impact on surrounding routes?
Light. The draft Scoping Document (REV 3) completely omits any mention of light. A facility of the magnitude proposed for this rural site will have significant and important impacts on nearby properties, especially those classified as "sensitive receptors" such as Camp Is-Sho-Da, CHS, Woodland Hills School, Rosewood Gardens, Evergreen Commons, etc. The final scoping document should require that these impacts and mitigations be fully described.
Cultural Resources. The site may be associated with a significant family in the history of this region (ie. VanRensselaers, Schuylers, ...) and should be thoroughly studied the identify its actual historic import.
Water Supply. As the hotel may be higher than the Grandview Avenue water tank, the final scope should contain a detailed discussion of how pressure and flow will be provided for ordinary day-to-day use and fire protection.
Alternatives. The final scope should address other alternatives such as construction of only the gaming floor, without any of the accessory uses.
Unavoidable Adverse Impacts. The draft scope is deficient in requiring discussions of unavoidable adverse impacts. The final scope should require full disclosure of unavoidable adverse impacts, as documented by impartial sources that are NOT connected to the gaming industry. Such impacts should at minimum include, noise, light trespass, effect on businesses and homes on Route 4 due to road widening, compulsive gamblers who cannot be effective treated, and closure of existing businesses.
Growth Inducing Aspects. The draft scope is silent about deterrents to growth that could occur due to increases in crime and compulsive behavior associated with the casino. The final scope should require that these deterrents to growth be addressed in the DEIS.
Schools. Providing "shuttles for drunks" isn't enough (their term). We require an extensive study of the school bus traffic in proximity to the casino. Recent FBI arrests have clearly documented that casinos are hubs for sex trafficking. We require that the developers address the potential dangers by contacting the FBI, the Albany DA's office, and other law enforcement entities to provide an independent analysis of the risks. Recent studies show that gambling entities are targeting younger clientele. A conference in Colonie on problem gambling addressed this issue just last week. We require that the developers examine the impact of a gambling venue in close proximity to two schools.
Land and habitat. What will the impact of lost habitat be? What species currently exist on site? How will the loss of residential buffer affect the homes and neighborhoods in the area? What archaeological and historical resources are on site? What about the loss of aerated and permeable soil? Storm water run-off? Waste water? The aquifer and federal wetlands?
These are just a few of our concerns that fall under the purview of an environmental review. We must voice them to be sure they are addressed in the scope of their studies! Please bring your comments, your presence, and your sense of community to the Public Hearing next Wednesday, October 8 at 7pm at Columbia High School. Bring your Save East Greenbush signs!
You can also email them to email@example.com.
Tell a friend. Call a neighbor. Forward this link. And please, if you can, donate to our legal fund. We absolutely must have legal representation. Please help us pay these bills! We are just residents, like you, who want to save our town. We need your help.
Save East Greenbush volunteers
962 Luther Rd
East Greenbush, NY 12061
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