Suffolk Regional Off-Track Betting Corp. has hired prominent local developer Ronald Parr as an adviser as it moves toward building a $76 million gambling parlor in Medford with 1,000 video slot machines.
Parr-Lambert LLC will review design and engineering plans as well as negotiate with utilities and trade unions over labor agreements, according to the contract signed Feb. 11.
Parr's company will be paid a total of $150,000 for 12 weeks of work, plus expenses, according to the contract.
"It's a contract with great value for us," Suffolk OTB president Phil Nolan said.
Suffolk OTB is relying on the planned gambling parlor to bring in revenue to help it emerge from bankruptcy.
"I have a strong commitment to the county and Long Island," Parr said. He called the planned betting parlor "a good thing for the community and I'm very happy to be a part of it."
Parr said he expects construction to start within three or four months. Nolan declined to comment on the timeline.
The Parr Organization has built more than 10,000 homes on Long Island, as well as office buildings, industrial parks and department stores, according to the company website.
Parr, of St. James, took over what became the Parr Meadows Racetrack in Yaphank when the original developer ran out of money. It opened for a season in 1977 and again briefly in the 1980s.
Parr and his Ronkonkoma-based companies have contributed $75,710 over the past five years to political candidates in Suffolk County, according to state campaign finance records.
"In my business, we support candidates from both parties, which is something that we've done for 50 years. I do support the candidates I believe will do the right job," he said. "I've never sought any type of political favor."
Parr is part of the original group, led by Buffalo-based Delaware North, selected by Suffolk OTB to construct the video lottery terminal casino.
Nolan said Parr had been doing work on the project for about a year without compensation. "He was doing so much work we thought it was fair to pay him," he said. Nolan said the contract with Parr was not competitively bid because it is a "personal services" agreement not covered by state law.
The Suffolk and Nassau OTBs each can build gambling parlors with up to 1,000 video slot machines under a 2013 state law.
Suffolk OTB plans to build a 100,000-square-foot facility with restaurants as well as gambling at the site of a former movie multiplex, near exit 64 off the Long Island Expressway. OTB purchased the 31.5 acres last year for $10.95 million.
Civic associations in Brookhaven have sued to stop the project, citing the possibility of traffic and crime problems. They argue that Brookhaven Town has to formally approve the project.
Suffolk OTB has argued that under state law, it is exempt from local zoning laws.
Brookhaven has passed a nonbinding resolution opposing the site, but has declined to join the lawsuit to stop the project.
Nassau OTB is still searching for a site after a planned casino at the former Fortunoff site in Westbury was scuttled in the wake of significant community opposition.