By NICOLE ANTONUCCI
FONDA -- The Montgomery County Legislature has officially added its name to the list of those in support of a casino proposal for Thruway Exit 27.
During Tuesday's regular board meeting, the legislature voted 7-1 to approve a new resolution of support for the casino on a 512-acre parcel straddling the town of Florida and city of Amsterdam.
District 6 Legislator John Duchessi was absent.
District 1 Legislator Martin Kelly was the lone dissenting vote, stating that while he likes the proposal, he wants to take a closer look at the long-term impact a casino could have on the region.
"We have executed a short-term plan looking at the next three years, but I would like to look down the road, five years or 10 years from now, when studies show that poverty increases, crime increases and these establishments prey on those we are trying to help," Kelly said prior to the vote. "There are 55 casinos in the Northeast. We are flooding the market and soon that money is going to dry up."
District 9 Legislator Alexander Kuchis said he is morally opposed to casinos but after seeing municipalities throughout the county vote in support of the project, he had no choice but to vote in favor of it.
District 2 Legislator Thomas Quackenbush said it is a perfect fit for the county.
This is the second resolution of support that the legislature has approved for the casino. The first was passed back in February, but after the state established new guidelines for the resolutions in May, Montgomery County Economic Development and Planning Department Director Kenneth Rose decided to have the legislature pass a new resolution.
It will be added to the resolutions of support passed by the town of Florida and the city of Amsterdam at their meetings last week, when the casino development team, Florida Acquisition Corp., gave a presentation on their proposal.
The development team is proposing to transform the site with a $250 million project, which will be built in three phases over two years. It will consist of a casino, hotel, spa, two golf courses, 300 residential units and potential commercial development.
Resolutions of support are among the criteria in the application process. Florida Acquisition Group has garnered support from every municipality in the county as well as neighboring Fulton County. Montgomery County Executive Matthew Ossenfort said it is this support that potentially saved the project.
Last week, the county was almost out of the running for the casino, after developer Clairvest Group Inc. CEO Jeff Parr had said the project would not move forward if the state Gaming Facility Location Board did not grant a 60-day extension to the June 30 application deadline or a $25 million deferment to the $50 million licensing fee.
The gaming board denied the requests after meeting with Montgomery County officials, who made the requests on behalf of Clairvest.
Despite this denial, Clairvest Group inc. investment broker Peter Marcil said this past Saturday that the developer will move forward with the application to the state on June 30.
Ossenfort said he is excited that the project has made it this far but the real challenge is just beginning.
"The game begins on June 30," Ossenfort said. "We are always going to be the underdog because we are little old Montgomery County, but if we get out there and advocate for this project, we have a fighting chance of getting this thing."