NEWBURGH - At a press conference in one of the most troubled neighborhoods in the City of Newburgh, Newburgh City Mayor Judy Kennedy and Newburgh Town Supervisor Gil Piaquadio called on members of the Gaming Facility Location Board to take a tour of Newburgh to see for themselves the desperate need for the economic and employment potential that a casino project sited in the Town of Newburgh would bring. Kennedy and Piaquadio made the case that while Sullivan County and the Catskills face similar economic challenges, there is no single City, Town, or Village in the entire region that has the level of poverty or joblessness that Newburgh does.
The letter to the Gaming Facility Location Board lays out the economic case for a casino in the Town of Newburgh and the impact it would have on the City of Newburgh and the Newburgh Enlarged City School District. The Mayor and Supervisor cited an almost $10 million per year infusion of revenue into the Newburgh Enlarged City School District, with a student population of roughly 11,000, of which nearly 8,000 students are classified by the State of New York as economically disadvantaged. As a point of comparison, the student population of all of Sullivan County is 9,574, of which New York State classifies 5,119 students as "economically disadvantaged." Kennedy and Piaquadio also noted that there are some 18,000 students within a 20-mile radius of the site of the proposed Hudson Valley Casino & Resort who live in the Cities of Newburgh, Beacon, Middletown, and Poughkeepsie and are classified by New York State as "economically disadvantaged," far surpassing Sullivan County.
In their letter, officials noted: "Rather than take our word for it, we encourage you to see Newburgh for yourselves. To that end, we would like to officially invite the Gaming Facility Location Board to a tour of the City of Newburgh, so that it can fully understand the kind of poverty our residents have been struggling with for decades. We are confident that when you see the challenges facing Newburgh and its surrounding communities, you will be left with little doubt as to the paramount need that exists for the Hudson Valley Casino & Resort and the need to grant it a license. Our community needs this economic development jolt and the jobs that would come with it, more than anyone."
At the press conference today, Kennedy and Piaquadio went on to point out that the nearby cities of Newburgh, Beacon, Poughkeepsie, and Middletown have more people below the poverty level than all of Sullivan County combined. In fact, these four urban communities have a combined total population of 102,945 residents with an average poverty rate of 22.4%. By comparison, Sullivan County has, in its entirety, a population of 76,665 with a poverty rate of 17.2%. While Newburgh officials were clear that Sullivan County was deserving of a casino project, they made it as clear that Newburgh was just as deserving, if not more so. The City of Newburgh’s poverty rate alone is 27.9%.
The two officials also pointed out that of all of the proposed projects in the region, only the Newburgh Town Project has the potential to impact a community with the highest poverty rates in the region and co-exist with a potential casino in the Catskills. The officials cite the Hudson Valley Casino & Resort’s location north of Route 17, which is the main traffic artery into the Catskills from downstate.