A week after Nassau County proposed a casino at the Nassau Coliseum area, Suffolk County's roster of potential Shinnecock Nation casino sites continues to evolve with the addition of the Brookhaven Airport in Shirley and the shuttered Shoreham nuclear plant, people familiar with the talks say.
Brookhaven Town officials are scheduled to meet with Shinnecock tribe representatives at the Brookhaven Airport Friday morning to discuss that prospective site, a person close to the talks said. Brookhaven Airport, situated in a residential neighborhood in Shirley, is a few miles from the Long Island Expressway and two miles from the Yaphank train station, two key transportation prerequisites for sites.
Brookhaven has considered privatizing or closing the airport because of its financial drain.
Land near Westhampton Beach's Gabreski Airport that had been on the Suffolk list has been rejected because of opposition and location. The Suffolk Gaming Task Force removed it because of a decision not to offer sites on either fork, just as Southampton Town was considering legislation to block consideration of the 58-acre Gabreski site, a task force member said.
Suffolk is finishing a list of properties to present to the Shinnecock tribe, one that will include privately owned sites such as Parr Meadows, site of the shuttered Suffolk Meadow racetrack in Shirley. Owner Ron Parr could not be reached, but Shinnecock trustee Lance Gumbs described that site as a "favorite."
The Shoreham site has been a long-shot property for a casino for more than a year. The Long Island Power Authority, which owns the 58-acre plant property, has acknowledged the interest of the Suffolk gaming task force, but did not comment Thursday.
A representative for the Shinnecock Nation said the Brookhaven airport and other Suffolk sites will be visited by the tribe, but a decision on a final site is far off. Stacey Epifane, deputy chief of staff for Brookhaven supervisor Mark Lesko, declined to comment.
The tribe, which expects final word on its preliminarily approved federal recognition request next month, has sought to dampen efforts and publicity about potential locations until it has secured recognition. Last week, Nassau County announced a proposal to offer the Nassau Coliseum area as a possible location, news that took some tribal leaders and Nassau hub developer Charles Wang by surprise. A Wang official has not returned repeated calls seeking comment.
Suffolk Legis. Wayne Horsley (D-Babylon), who heads the task force exploring Suffolk locations, declined to confirm whether Brookhaven Airport or Shoreham would be listed as prospective sites.
"We want to have as many Suffolk sites on the list as possible so we can work the field in the best interest of the county and the Shinnecock tribe," Horsley said Thursday.
This month, Suffolk is expected to meet with land owners whose sites could be suited to a casino site. Gumbs said the tribe will decide which sites are best after a feasibility study is done, and any location will be picked based on "what's best for the tribe."