Presently, our concerns regarding an Indian Nation casino at Belmont Park are based solely upon conjecture and innuendo. In 2007, the Village established the Belmont Task Force to examine the proposal for a VLT Racino at Belmont Park. The product of their comprehensive study was summarized and memorialized into a ten point document officially titled, “Inc. Village of Floral Park Task Force for Belmont’s Preservation and Improvement: Statement of Principles.” The Statement of Principles was not a declaration of opposition to the proposed state-sponsored VLT plan but rather a proclamation of fairness. These principles enunciated reciprocal and equitable recommendations outlining how neighboring residential communities could coexist with the then proposed VLT operations at Belmont Park. The proposal today is not a state-operated VLT Racino but rather a sovereign Indian Nation casino. Yet, the virtues contained within our Statement of Principles still hold true. Therefore, in an effort to provide reasoned discussion to the debate, over the next several weeks, I will address the casino issue using the 2007 Statement of Principles as my guide. My hope is you will see the fundamental issues of fairness contained in each principle. Consideration must be addressed by any proposed use at Belmont Park.
I. The neighboring communities that shoulder the greatest burdens are to be guaranteed the greatest benefit.
Foxwoods Resort had its humble beginnings as a bingo hall in 1986; today, it is one of the largest gaming facilities in the world. In 2010, Foxwoods reported $921,610,000 in gaming revenue and $267,267,000 in non-gaming revenue. Over $14 million visitors have attended Foxwoods for each of the last four years ($14 million / 365 =38,356 visits per day). With a proposed sovereign Indian Nation casino at Belmont Park we need to factor an additional 5,500 daily employees, 2000 daily Belmont Park employees: 38,356 + 5,500 + 2000 = 45,856. Add racing fans averaging 5,000/day for the three month season and you have over 51,000 visits per day. That’s more than a sold-out Yankee game every day! One need not be Nostradamus to know the impact this will have on our village, especially our police. This year’s Belmont Stakes alone had an attendance of 55,779. That day, the FPPD worked a double-staffed shift with additional overlapping shifts to cover traffic and other public safety issues due to the large number of visitors and the nature of the day. That equates to approximately eight officers and three supervisors, simply to handle that day. Many have commented that on these heavy impact days, effective enforcement of other quality of life issues — public intoxication, underage drinking etc. fall significantly short of what we have become accustomed to and expect. With over 50,000 visitors at our doorstep every day, the impact on our police is, at this point, incalculable. Once again, using Foxwoods as the model, $4,100,000 is its contribution to the local police. Foxwoods, in forested Ledyard, CT, will never be confused with the indescribable congestion that is western Nassau County! What would the contribution need to be on the edge of the largest metropolis in the world? What is the compensation for the wear and tear on our roads, our infrastructure, etc.; all burdens need to be honestly assessed. This is not simply a cost-ratio analysis — this is our home, our village. The Indian Nation casino proposal may provide necessary beneficial fiscal relief to government agencies beyond Floral Park; however, our Statement of Principles must be recognized and addressed by all those who stand to benefit at our expense.