Representatives of Local Civic Organizations and Concerned Residents Announce Opposition to Planned Westbury Casino
Citing the prospect of increased crime and concerns over additional traffic in an already congested area, representatives from the Meadowbrook Pointe-Merchants Concourse Civic Association and other concerned residents announced today that they are organizing to oppose the proposed casino at the former Fortunoff’s at the Source Mall in Westbury. The representatives also cited the secretive process and demanded that, in accordance with state law, local government be consulted before any site is selected. However, in contacting local officials, not one has said they have been consulted. With this in mind, they have called on the County Legislature, the Town of Hempstead and the Village of Westbury to hold public meetings on the matter.
Considering competition from Resorts World Casino at Aqueduct and Empire City Casino at Yonkers and the new Suffolk Video Lottery Terminal Casino, the group questioned the economic impact the casino would have on Nassau. Specifically, the casino would drain disposable income from local residents that would otherwise be spent at restaurants and local retail stores, decreasing sales tax revenue to the county and state. Further, the casino would predominantly attract three groups of local residents — people with a gambling problem, senior citizens on a fixed income and young people, bringing with it greater concerns for crime. Rather than going to local businesses, revenue will then go to OTB, which, thanks to political patronage and political backscratching, is renowned to be the only bookie that has a long history of losing money.
“The Fortunoff’s property was once Nassau’s crown jewel of retailing, attracting customers from throughout Long Island seeking high-quality products, including jewelry and outdoor furniture. The planned casino will attract the exact opposite, promising to bring increased congestion and crime,” said Henry Cernitz of the Meadowbrook Pointe-Merchants Concourse Civic Association.
“With the repeal of school traffic cameras, Nassau officials are desperately seeking ways to plug budget holes. To paraphrase former Yankee great Yogi Berra, ‘It is déjà vu, all over again.’ They are seeking to plug this hole by appealing to yet another ‘sin’ tax. Westbury and other local area residents should not be disproportionately burdened, affecting local quality of life,” said Ralph Strafaci of the Meadowbrook Pointe-Merchants Concourse Civic Association.
The group is appealing to elected officials to oppose the casino and has begun an online petition at stopthecasinoatfortunoff.org. A community information forum has also been scheduled for 7:30 pm on Thursday, January 15th at St. Brigid’s School, Maple Avenue, Westbury.