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Don't rush on casino judgment

Don't rush on casino judgment

City needs to gather input on casino while waiting for plans

The Schenectady City Council played a cool hand Monday, backing away from a resolution that would have instructed the Planning Commission to review zoning changes needed to accommodate a gambling casino at the old Alco site.

The problem is that Galesi Group, which last week paid $1 million and said it would be filing a plan with the state to build such a casino, doesn’t really have one yet — at least not one they’re willing to make public. And until the city’s longtime developer does reveal the details, any action by the council seeming to embrace the plan would seem premature. No wonder at least a couple of its members are undecided.

That said, the city does need to start laying the groundwork to take action soon, because once the plan is made public — on May 15, according to Galesi — the city won’t have much time: The final application deadline is June 30, and Galesi’s plan would need the city’s support to have a reasonable chance of beating out the five other Capital Region applicants.

Without further delay, the council should be appointing a committee to determine what needs to be done and when, including the scheduling of a public hearing so residents can provide their input before any votes are taken.

The council should also appoint a liaison between it and Galesi to work with the company so that both know each others’ needs.

Schenectady, of course, isn’t the only municipality with a casino application pending. Some municipal governments have already jumped on their applicant’s bandwagon, including the one in East Greenbush, before townspeople had even heard a word about it. But others, like Schenectady, seem to be taking a more prudent approach, preferring to actually see the cards in their hand before deciding whether to bet on them.

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