Joseph G. Cairo, Jr., President and CEO
Joseph Bentivegna, Director
Eric A. Harkin, Director
Frank DeStefano, Director
Nassau Regional Off-Track Betting Corp.
139 Liberty Avenue
Mineola, NY 11501
Dear Messrs. Cairo, Bentivegna, Harkin and DeStefano:
We are writing to express our profound concern regarding the announced plan of Nassau Regional Off-Track Betting Corp. (“OTB”) to open a casino with 1,000 video lottery terminals and gaming tables in the former Fortunoff building on Old Country Road in Westbury.
Although the proposed location is in the Town of Hempstead, we believe a casino placed there will adversely affect nearby residents of the Town of North Hempstead whom we represent. The proposed site is directly across the street from the North Hempstead community of Westbury (an incorporated village) and in very close proximity to the unincorporated North Hempstead communities of Carle Place and New Cassel.
In the first instance, we have serious questions about the lack of transparency in the process leading up to the selection of this site.
The openness and transparency required for such a large and significant project have clearly not been provided by OTB. The announcement of your plan was made during the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day and reflected virtually no outreach to the community. A meaningful process providing for authentic community input and vigorous public discussion is an important safeguard for sound and responsible governmental decision-making. Our residents are entitled to – and frankly expect – no less from their public officials.
Unfortunately, the actions of OTB up to this point have failed this crucial test.
Under the present circumstances, we strongly believe that all negotiations towards acquisition of this property and placing a casino there should be suspended, pending implementation by OTB of a comprehensive process that will ensure much-needed community and public input.
In addition to the process, there are numerous substantive questions and community concerns that have been brought to our attention that OTB must address. We request that OTB begin at least with the following:
1. The residents of Carle Place, Westbury and New Cassel are entitled to an opportunity to have their concerns and questions heard by OTB and addressed in a public forum, before this project proceeds any further. We request that at least one such meeting be scheduled this month for our residents and their elected officials, at a location that can accommodate the many residents who would most certainly wish to attend and with sufficient notice to the public.
2. Many residents who live within walking distance of this proposed site, as well as in the broader community, have expressed their concern – and even fear – for their personal safety and security, and that of their families. This very real issue must be addressed openly and honestly by OTB. We are concerned that the already heavily-burdened (as a result of consolidation) Third Precinct of the Nassau County Police Department will face a “tipping point” in its ability to provide appropriate and timely response to neighborhood security concerns, as it focuses on the increased law-enforcement duties that result from a busy casino with prolonged hours of operation.
3. Many concerned citizens have told us that they believe that the immediately adjacent residential neighborhoods will be severely impacted by increased traffic and be turned into a high-traffic commuting corridor, as casino patrons come and go from the nearby Carle Place and Westbury LIRR stations and the Northern State Parkway (increasing traffic on Cherry Lane, Ellison Avenue, Post Avenue and adjacent residential streets).
We share these and our residents’ myriad other concerns regarding this proposal. Our constituents have called and written to us for our assistance in this matter because they understandably want to protect their most important investments – their homes – and the quality of life they wish to preserve and enhance.
We join numerous residents of the Town of North Hempstead in stating our strong opposition to placing a casino at this location. In the interests of fairness, openness and transparency, we are calling upon OTB to commit immediately to the suspension of this project and bring the entire process out into the light of day.
We thank you for your attention to this urgent and important issue.
Judi Bosworth Viviana Russell
Supervisor Council Member – District 1
Town of North Hempstead Town of North Hempstead