Posted by: David Giacalone | July 31, 2014

first look at the Schenectady casino Application (with updates)

 At about 6 PM today (Thursday, July 31), I sent an email, in a rush, to my Stockade neighbors with information on the Schenectady casino application.  That email is copied below, supplemented by several more points of interest, and drawings from the Application.
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to: HistoricStockade@yahoogroups.con
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 I‘ve just taken a quick look at the full Application of Capital Region Gaming LLC, to operate Rivers Casino & Resort at Mohawk Harbor in Schenectady, which was put online today by the Gaming Facility Location Board.  The materials are presented online in pdf files, item by item from the Application form, making the items easier to handle and download. Note: It is a heavily “redacted version“, meaning that the Applicant has removed or covered over information that it believes would put it at a competitive disadvantage or would otherwise be exempted by federal or state law if sought in a Freedom of Information request.
update (Aug. 14, 2014):  Naturally, the Applicant also submitted an unredacted version to the Location Board.  In an email yesterday responding to  my questions, Lee Park, the Commission’s Director of Communications explained that the redactions in the version of each application made public on July 31 were all made by the applicant, and had not been reviewed by the Commission.  However:

With regards to applicants’ redactions to the published application materials: please note that our Counsel is actively reviewing all the submitted redactions to determine whether they are appropriate under the Freedom of Information Law (FOIL). Where discrepancies with redactions may be found, the FOIL outlines a specific legal procedure for reconciliation. If a redaction is ultimately deemed to be inappropriate, it will be removed.

Removing a redaction means “uncovering” the answer given by the Applicant, thus making it available for public inspection. Mr. Park assured me that the public will be notified of any removed redactions.

Here are items that seem to be important or particularly interesting, presented without commentary:

  • Casino-AccessPlan-FrontSt The [image at the front of this sentence] shows a detail from a traffic pattern rendering submitted with the Application (click on it for a larger version). That red arrow in the middle of the image, pointing down Front St. from the parking lot exit, is certainly of interest to those living in the Stockade, who are very concerned about a constant stream (or bumper-to-bumper traffic jam) of vehicles traveling down the narrow streets of the Stockade twenty-four hours of every day. update (Aug. 14, 2014):  The Applicant brags that the casino will bring 2.8 million visitors a year to Schenectady.  The Gazette tells us that: ” T.R. Johnson Engineer of Latham prepared a study in July that looked at traffic impacts from a full build-out of the site with a casino. Access to the site would differ from the original project, as casino patrons would generate 681 new vehicular trips during morning rush hour and 1,615 new trips during evening rush hour.” (Bergman Traffic Report, Table ES-2) (“Mohawk Harbor plan given new review“, Aug., 14, 2014, by Bethany Bump)
  • Immediately below is a rendering of the actual casino building:

Casino-RenderBldg

  • Hours of Operation: the Casino plans to be open 24 hrs a day, including its Marketplace; the entertainment/sports lounge will be open until 4 AM, and the Steakhouse until 2 AM
  • Other Proof of Local Support: this is a list of officials, organizations, retailers and other businesses supporting the casino.
  • red check Problem Gambling: funding for treatment programs, along with the prior existence of slots in Saratoga and casinos in Atlantic City and Connecticut means that “the addition of gaming at the Rivers Casino is not expected to lead to an increase in the prevalence rates in the local area.”
  • Housing. “The Rivers Casino is expected to have a positive though slight impact on Schenectady’s housing market.”  And, “The Rivers Casino is estimated to increase housing demand by 83 units in the high case or only 0.12% of the projected number of housing units in the county in 2019.”
  • Market Analysis: totally redacted, including answers to how the Casino would attract out-of-state visitors, compete with other gambling facilities nearby, and broaden the appeal of the Region and the Host Municipality
  • Jobs. Plan to Ensure Quality of Jobs and numbers of jobs.  totally redacted
  • Ownership of the Land for last 20 years and plan to acquire rights to use land under a lease of at least 60 years: totally redacted.
  • Consultants: so far, of 19 development consultants, only one is from Schenectady: Re4orm Architecture (hotel architecture), which was hired by the Galesi Group.  No Schenectady County law firm out of ten firms.
  • Floodplain: modeling demonstrates no adverse impact of Mohawk Harbor on the Flood plain nor a raise in the Base Flood Elevation above its current 229 feet.
  • scalesrichpoorLegal Actions within past 10 years or currently ongoing against Applicants: No information given, all redacted.
  • Substitution Effect (the loss of revenue by local businesses because customers spend their money at the casino instead)  “In summary, there is a wealth of evidence contradicting the proposition that gaming substitutes for other expenditures. The positive spillover effect on local hotels for one is unequivocally demonstrated in numerous jurisdictions, even in markets where casinos operate hotels for their gaming customers.” [however,]
  • Sales & Sales Tax: Food and Beverage Sales of $18.92 million, and Hotel sales of $7.52 million are projected, resulting in the payment of $2.42 million in sales taxes being paid.
  • Partnerships with Local Businesses: Names, types of business, dollar amounts, etc, are all redacted.

masks

  • Cultural Institutions:  “Rivers Casino is not anticipated to negatively impact any cultural institution in Schenectady.  Further, some may benefit by increased visitation to the downtown area, particularly Proctors Theater.”  Two case studies are given: The Franklin Institute in Philadelphia and the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, both of which had higher attendance after casinos opened. [There is no mention of any Schenectady history nor of the Historic Stockade.]
  • Poker. There will be 12 Poker Tables, in a 3000 sq. ft. hall.
  • Crime: “[T]he perception that casinos breed crime is not supported by the evidence. While the number of reported crimes can increase, as in any commercial development that attracts visitors, such as a shopping mall, casino gaming has not been shown to lead to an increase in crime rates. . . Host communities should anticipate impacts similar in kind to other commercial development of similar scope and visitor potential.”
  • prayinghandsS Public Safety Services: “The introduction of a casino can lead to an increase in traffic patrol requirements and in the number of calls for police service.  Arrests or citations related to increased visitations to the local area will create increased caseloads for the local judiciary  Even calls not resulting in arrest or citation can result a need for increased police staffing. . . . The specific increase in police staffing varies from community to community. As shown in the examples from Indiana, many communities found no need to increase police staffing.”

- share this post with this short URL: http://tinyurl.com/casino1stLook

CasinoApplication-drawings

 - collage of drawings from the Application; click on it for larger version -

- click to see the individual renderings:

  • the Casino and Resort Casino-AttN

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Casino-AttG-landscape . . . Casino-AttI-Landscape

  • landscape

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  •   Access Plan: Casino-AccessPlan

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  •  Casino-AccessDetail-FrontSt Access Detail showing traffic directed onto Front Street toward East Front and Stockade Historic District neighborhoods
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