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Belmont Park casino plan stirs debate at Nassau legislature

Residents in favor of the proposed casino at

Residents in favor of the proposed casino at Belmont Park show their support at the Nassau County Legislature on Monday, Jan. 25, 2016, in Mineola. Photo Credit: Howard Schnapp

Opponents of a planned video gambling parlor at Belmont Park pressed the Nassau County Legislature’s Republican majority Monday to consider a Democratic bill to replace the board that backs the project.

About 15 video lottery terminal backers who said the facility would create hundreds of jobs also appeared.

Several dozen residents of Floral Park and Elmont who attended the legislature’s meeting in Mineola complained that Nassau Regional Off-Track Betting Corp.’s proposal to build a casino with up to 1,000 video lottery terminals at Belmont would increase crime and traffic and decrease property values.

Legis. Carrié Solages (D-Elmont) tried to force a vote on his proposal to remove the appointed OTB board members and replace them with project opponents. “The public has every right to know how we stand on this issue,” Solages said.

VLT opponents shouted “take the vote!” as Presiding Officer Norma Gonsalves (R-East Meadow) attempted to explain the legislative process.

Gonsalves said that since Solages’ bill wasn’t on the meeting calendar, it would need the signatures of 13 of the 19 county legislators to be called to the floor. Republicans have a 12-7 majority. “There’s no devious plan on our part,” Gonsalves said.

“Your responsibility is to represent the people, it’s not to represent the party that also represents the OTB,” said Matthew Sexton, who has led a resident petition effort against the Belmont VLT project.

OTB said Monday that Belmont’s 430 acres “are utilized less than 100 days a year, have served as home to gambling for a century, and could benefit taxpayers by $24 million a year,” in new revenues for Nassau County.

Also Monday, the legislature passed legislation to fix hundreds of assessment roll errors that resulted in residents being charged property taxes for services they don’t receive. The action followed complaints by Hempstead Town Tax Receiver Don Clavin, who said some Lido Beach residents were being taxed for as many as three fire districts when they only are served by one. County officials blamed computer issues.

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