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What you need to know for 11/19/2017

East Greenbush Town Board member drops support for casino

East Greenbush Town Board member drops support for casino

An East Greenbush Town Board member said Thursday she is withdrawing her support for a casino propos

An East Greenbush Town Board member said Thursday she is withdrawing her support for a casino proposed in the town because of the developer’s lack of transparency in changes to the proposal.

The Capital View Casino and Resort was originally pitched with a 300-room hotel, which was later downsized to 150 rooms and then downsized again to 100 rooms. But board member Mary Ann Matters said the board was never informed of those changes.

“The relationship between the developer and the Town Board has significantly deteriorated,” Matters said. “They made a lot of changes to the casino without telling us. I really feel this was a bait-and-switch scheme to get us to agree to allowing them into our community and putting a casino here.”

But in a statement released by spokesman Morgan Hook, the developers — Saratoga Casino and Raceway and Churchill Downs — disputed Matters’ claims.

“At every step of the process, we have engaged with every member of the Town Board and provided them with a full and detailed account of what our proposal is and will be,” Hook said. “While we have made some adjustments to our proposal to accommodate and protect local business interests, this is still a $300 million project that will generate millions in revenue for the town, county and school district and create thousand of jobs.”

After reading the statement, Matters said it was not true and that the board was not informed every step of the way.

She is calling on the four other Town Board members to reconsider their support of the casino project. The board unanimously passed a resolution of support for the proposal in June.

“Unfortunately, I get the sense that the four other board members are still solid yes votes,” she said. “I’m the only one, as far as I know, that is complaining and asking questions.”

Outside the Town Board, there are other critics. Save East Greenbush — a group made up of local residents opposed to the casino — filed a lawsuit against the project’s developers in June.

The group is also calling on the other board members to withdraw their support following Matters’ decision to do so. Matters said Save East Greenbush is “a force to reckon with” and applauded their efforts.

Matters said she was never told why the hotel was downsized and questions how the project retains with a $300 million price tag after cutting 200 hotel rooms out of the original plan.

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