By ALISSA SCOTT
The Amsterdam Common Council put its support Tuesday night behind the construction of a commercial casino in Montgomery County.
Though prior to the meeting, some aldermen expressed concerns in bringing a casino to the area, they said they put the resolution up because they were asked to by state officials.
A certified copy of the resolution will be transmitted to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, state Sen. Cecilia Tkaczyk, D-Duanesburg, and Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara, D-Rotterdam.
Second Ward Alderwoman Valerie Beekman had several questions about the potential $100 million project during a committee of the whole meeting.
She abstained from the vote.
"Are we just looking for land?" Beekman asked. "Or looking for property? Looking where to put this?"
Thane explained that Montgomery County is one of eight counties in the capital region that is being considered for siting a non-Indian gaming casino. The county legislature last week approved a resolution supporting such a project, and the Florida town council may also consider a similar resolution at its Feb. 24 meeting.
"There've been a couple properties identified by the county that are promising," Thane said. "One is just across the river and another one farther out west. The site selectors will be coming into town and looking at what is most advantageous for their prospects."
Beekman asked if a casino would be beneficial to Amsterdam.
"It would be quite beneficial to us," Thane said. "By way of its a $100 million project, hypothetically, and there would be water and sewer extensions. That would benefit this municipality as well as jobs and sales tax. Tourism to the area. I think it would be quite advantageous to the area."
Mick Mullins, a broker from Mullins Realty, is promoting for sale a pair of properties along Route 30 near the border of the city of Amsterdam and the town of Florida as a potential casino site. The two properties have separate long-time owners and are mostly comprised of open farmland with few neighbors, Mullins said. The properties comprise a 512-acre site with road frontage bordering the southern side of the state Thruway near Amsterdam's Exit 27.
Beekman questioned whether building in Saratoga Springs would be more beneficial.
"The difference with Saratoga is that it wouldn't have such a significant impact on that municipality or that area of the capital region as it would here," Thane responded. "We really have significant need for a transformational project like this, so there's a ton of development going on in Saratoga. We need this. We need something."
Tkaczyk recently wrote a bill that would require local governments to approve the siting of a casino in their area. That way, the state won't be able to just place a casino without the local community supporting it.
According to the resolution, the council has "received calls and emails of support for a commercial casino operation in the county."
"In recognition of the potential economic benefits, the city of Amsterdam Common Council is supportive of a commercial casino being located in the county, provided there is stated support from the host municipality," the resolution says.
First Ward Alderman Edward Russo chimed in before the vote.
"I am in support of this and I feel that it's going to benefit the city and it's going to help us bring jobs here and help the city itself," he said. "Starting in the downtown area and it'll progress to Route 30."
Third Ward Alderman Ronald J. Barone Sr. said he recognizes the down side of such a project, but voted in favor of the supportive resolution, as did 4th Ward Alderwoman Diane Hatzenbuhler.
Fifth Ward Alderman Richard Leggiero was not in attendance.