Nassau County executive candidates Thomas Suozzi and Edward Mangano discussed the future of electronic slot machines in the county and touted their plans to spur small business growth Wednesday during a Plainview-Old Bethpage Chamber of Commerce meeting.
Mangano, the incumbent Republican, and Suozzi, a Democrat who served as county executive from 2002 to 2009, responded to questions about the possible use of the OTB Race Palace in Plainview as a site for electronic slot machines. The venue has been discussed as an option after state lawmakers in June granted Nassau and Suffolk the right to operate 1,000 "video lottery terminals" each as a way to generate revenue for the counties.
Suozzi said any location should be selected "in a public way. We need to see what the impact will be on the quality of life in the neighborhood." He said the county also should consider other venues for the slots parlor where attractions could be built around it, to make it a "destination."
Mangano said his office is conducting a study of the Race Palace option, and that "any final determination will be based on the study." He said he expects the review to be completed by the end of the year.
Suozzi also said he would institute a New Suburbia Trailblazers competition in which municipalities would compete for county, state, and federal grants to be used to redevelop local downtowns into "destinations" featuring mixed-used residential and commercial properties.
Mangano said he has created a business recovery task force to help small business owners following superstorm Sandy. He also said his office has worked to increase the number of television and movies filmed in Nassau.
"Our economic policies are translating into economic growth," Mangano said in an interview after the meeting.
Suozzi spoke first because Mangano arrived more than an hour late because of scheduling conflicts.
Deputy County Executive Rob Walker initially told the group that Mangano could not attend because he was meeting with Federal Emergency Management Agency officials in Manhattan.
"He was called to New York City to meet with the FEMA director as well as New York State homeland security in regards to Bay Park Sewage Treatment Plant -- he's been in the city since 7 o'clock this morning," Walker said. "He had to go there this morning to hopefully come back with a check for $700 million so we can continue to rebuild our sewage treatment facility."
In an interview later, Mangano said he actually was at an 8 a.m. state Republican Party meeting in Manhattan, followed by a Sandy-related conference call on his ride back to Nassau.
Mangano said Walker "may not have been totally be aware of my schedule."State GOP spokesman David Laska called the breakfast a "small" gathering of officers and committee members held at the Union League Club in midtown, and that Mangano spoke from about 8 a.m. to 8:15.
New York State Division of Homeland Security spokesman Peter Cutler said he was unaware of any conference calls related to Bay Park Sewage Plant held Wednesday. FEMA spokesman Jim Homstad said after checking "all the proper channels" he was also unaware of any meetings or conference calls regarding the plant.
Mangano said he expected within a week to announce developments regarding "improvements" to the sewage plant, which was damaged severely during Sandy.