County panel pushes for casino plan

FONDA – The Montgomery County Legislature’s Economic Development and Planning Committee is supporting a potential casino in the county.

The committee Tuesday unanimously moved a resolution to the full legislature for approval later this month.

“I very much support this,” District 7 Legislator Barbara Wheeler said Tuesday. “I think this is something great for Montgomery County and moving forward in the beginning stages is important to support.”

Montgomery County is one of the counties in the Capital Region being considered for a casino after voters statewide approved a casino measure in November’s general election.

In Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s State of the State address last month, he said casino gambling requests for proposals will be issued in March, bids will be due in June and the decision will be made in the fall regarding where new casinos will be located.

Last week, Ken Rose, director of Montgomery County’s Business Development Center, brought forth to the public Montgomery County officials’ desire for the county to be chosen for a casino.

Rose said broker Mick Mullins of Mullins Realty is promoting a pair of properties off Route 30 for a possible casino. The land would total 512 acres – 341 acres in the city of Amsterdam and 171 in the town of Florida.

County officials have not said whether a casino developer is interested in the property.

Rose requested resolutions to support the project from the county legislature, the town of Florida and the city of Amsterdam. All three resolutions will be decided later this month.

County legislators say a casino would be an economic asset to the county.

Legislator Alexander Kuchis, responsible for District 9, which consists mostly of the town of Amsterdam, said he and his residents approve of the casino siting.

“I went back and looked at how the voters voted in each of the municipalities that make up my whole legislative district, and it was a majority in favor [of the casino],” Kuchis said, referring to November’s vote. “I also did a lot of interviews, not just of people in my district, but people in the county, and I’ve gotten a 100 percent approval rating.”

Montgomery County, with an unemployment rate of 8.2 percent, had the highest voter approval of a potential casino in the November vote, at 56 percent. Fulton County came in at a close second, with 55.9 percent.

Rose said he wants to include Fulton County in Montgomery County’s casino efforts because, he says, the casino could have a regional effect.

“I’m hoping that the legislature will support this casino at the full board meeting; then I want to include Fulton County in this process because this could have such a regional impact,” Rose said. “I want to have our county executive, Matt Ossenfort, request Fulton County to sponsor a resolution at their Board of Supervisors in support of our casino efforts.”

There has been no word yet as to whether Fulton County has its eye on a potential casino site, but Rose said he thinks the support of Fulton County could be instrumental in Montgomery County’s efforts.

“I think obviously having the two counties that supported the bill the most coming together sends a strong message to Albany and the siting board that the two communities are whole-heartedly in favor of this,” he said.

Neither Fulton County Administrative Officer Jon Stead nor Fulton County Board of Supervisors Chairman Rick Argotsinger could be reached for comment this morning.

The Montgomery County Industrial Development Agency will discuss the potential casino siting Thursday.

The county legislature as a whole may vote on the resolution at its regular meeting Feb. 26.