Susan Poser, Hofstra University president, right, Jon Kaiman, a Hofstra...

Susan Poser, Hofstra University president, right, Jon Kaiman, a Hofstra advisory board member, and Geraldine Hart, associate vice president for public safety at Hofstra, answer questions at a community forum at the Hempstead college on Saturday. Credit: Gary Licker

A lecture hall at Hofstra University was packed with more than 400 attendees for a forum Saturday to discuss the process for a casino at the Nassau Hub, a 72-acre property that remains the largest undeveloped stretch of land in the county.

Many of those in attendance were construction trade workers, more than three dozen in neon green shirts that read “Opportunities for Long Islanders,” with Sands marked in the front. Las Vegas Sands, a casino and resort company, has proposed spending an estimated $4 billion to build a hotel with a full casino, performance venue, restaurants and more at the Coliseum site.

Sands officials previously told Newsday they expected to take over the lease of the grounds, subject to approval by the Nassau County Legislature.

Earlier last month, the New York Gaming Facility Location Board opened the window for bidding for three available downstate casino licenses. Any bidder must win approval from a local Community Advisory Committee that is made up of five individuals chosen by state and Long Island officials.

To move forward with a casino, Sands needs a gaming license from the state and other authorizations, including zoning approvals from the Town of Hempstead.

Although the county owns and currently leases the property, new site development plans must be approved by the Town of Hempstead, according to Jon Kaiman, Suffolk County deputy county executive, who also sits on the Dean's Advisory Board of Hofstra College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

The town is a “key player” in the entire process and a lead agency, Kaiman told the crowd. “The town is responsible for the zoning and the town is responsible for the environmental review.” 

Hofstra University President Susan Poser outlined the criteria for granting a casino license as the audience jotted notes while she broke down additional evaluations such as economic and business activity.

“They include things like how much is the company willing to spend, the revenue that would come to the county and the town and the state, the number of quality jobs that it will create, and speed to market, which means how quickly the casino can get stood up, so that the revenue starts coming in,” Poser said.

Although the plan has many supporters, such as the Building and Construction Trades Council of Nassau and Suffolk counties, it also has opposition, including Hofstra University, whose officials refrained from making any public comments about their position at the forum that was intended to be informational. 

Matthew Aracich, president of the building trades council, which represents 65,000 industry members, told Newsday roughly 80% of those in the audience were trade workers.

“We are the people that are going to your church. We are the people who are your big brothers and big sisters. We work in your food banks … The building trades is the barometer for the economy. When we're working, that means the economy is strong,” Aracich said.

Hofstra opposes having a casino so close to thousands of young people and students, Poser told Newsday.

“I’m very pro-labor. It just has to do with whether that should happen right here in our neighborhood around all of these schools,” Poser said after the forum.

Sands officials previously told Newsday that the project’s scale would not be the same without the casino.

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Summer tourism ... Shark sightings on LI . . . Dino-Mite Vintage . . . What's Up on Long Island . . . Get the latest news and more great videos at NewsdayTV

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