Taking Sides

AMSTERDAM – Supporters and opponents of a proposed casino at Thruway Exit 27 are making their voices heard.

Both groups held dueling rallies Wednesday, although the rallies were cut short by a thunderstorm.

The two groups were separated by about a half-mile, with supporters of the casino rallying on the Route 30 bridge over the Mohawk River and opponents standing near the Amsterdam Library, also on Route 30.

The Florida Acquisition Corp. is proposing to build the casino. The proposal is one of five casino proposals in the Capital Region. The state Gaming Facility Location Board will award a license for at least one casino in the Capital Region in the fall.

Florida Acquisition Corp. wants to build a $250 million casino – which would include slot machines, gaming tables, a hotel, villas and golf courses – on 500 acres in the town of Florida and city of Amsterdam near the Thruway interchange. The project would create 453 temporary construction jobs and 850 permanent casino jobs, according to the developers.

Miguel Gonzalez of Amsterdam, organizer of the Say Yes to Exit 27 Casino rally, said he supports the casino because the area needs jobs.

“We need jobs,” Gonzalez said. “Montgomery County is always getting left behind. It’s time for us to have jobs. It’s time for us to speak up.”

Olive Martinez of Amsterdam said she supports the casino because it would bring jobs and entertainment.

Amsterdam Mayor Ann Thane and Peter Vroman, Republican candidate for the 111th Assembly seat, were at the Yes Casino Rally.

Thane said she supports the casino because it would bring jobs to the area.

Lori Rulison of Florida attended the No Exit 27 Casino rally Wednesday to show her opposition to the proposal.

Rulison said she has a lot of questions about the potential effect the casino would have on the area. Rulison said she has not heard how the casino would affect traffic and who would be responsible for maintaining roads and responding to emergencies.

She said she questions where the casino would get its water, and wants to know if the city of Amsterdam could handle an increased demand for water.

Rulison said she thinks people should research the casino business and the effect casinos have on communities they are in.

“Casinos are not all that they’re promoted to be,” Rulison said.

The town of Florida and city of Amsterdam councils have voted to support the casino.

Another Say Yes to Exit 27 casino rally is set for today.

at 5:30 p.m. on the Route 30 bridge in Amsterdam.