GOSHEN – County Executive Steve Neuhaus was joined by Legislative Chairman Stephen Brescia in announcing the formation of a Task Force on Gaming and Economic Development. The task force would study the potential impacts of casino development on Orange County, including effects on transportation-infrastructure capacity. New York State plans to award four casino licenses in three upstate regions, including two in the Hudson Valley and Catskills.
Orange County has received interest from several gaming entities and development firms since voters approved a constitutional amendment authorizing casinos on November 5, 2013. The county’s network of interstate highways, talented and educated workforce, and business-friendly environment have made it an attractive destination. The Task Force on Gaming and Economic Development would be empowered to conduct an annual report on casino operations in Orange County and required to submit its findings to the Economic Development and Gaming Committee.
The task force will consist of the county executive, deputy county executive, members of the Legislature, including leaders of the three major parties, the county Department of Planning, and representatives from the Orange County Partnership. The Orange County Charter grants the county executive the authority to form a task force according to Article III, Section 3.02, which states the county executive shall "appoint, supervise and terminate, subject to the provision of Section 3.06 of the Administrative Code, and except as otherwise herein provided, all executive committees, commission and boards to assist him in the exercise of his executive functions and in the planning, formulation and administration of executive policies and programs."
The meeting minutes will be public and available on the Orange County website. Tentative topics for the task force’s inaugural meeting include:
· Expediting stalled Route 17 construction work in Woodbury
· Reducing noise associated with additional infrastructure development
· Local hiring initiatives for Orange County residents
· Job-training for casino employees
· Impact on emergency first-responders
"Gaming interest in our county has been welcome, but, as I have continually said, sustained economic growth from casino development depends on host-community support. The legislative chairman and I have established a task force on gaming and economic development in order to assist local communities in understanding gaming development and what it means for our area. For example, two casinos in Ulster and Sullivan counties won’t mean less congestion for Orange. On the contrary, it will mean twice the traffic – with none of the jobs and tax revenue. The task force will offer a management plan for responsible development, so that we can put the phony scare tactics aside and let residents use common sense to decide for themselves," said Neuhaus.
"The county executive has listened to residents and taken the right approach to casino development in the Hudson Valley. The task force will report to the legislature its public findings and take into account a spectrum of issues important to Orange County families," said Brescia. "Most importantly, local voices will be heard and responsible steps will be taken to ensure long-term economic growth and our quality of life can continue to coexist."