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Westbury gaming parlor opponents have 'valid' concerns, says Governor Andrew Cuomo, but he will not intervene in site selection

Governor Cuomo during a press conference Wednesday, Jan.

Governor Cuomo during a press conference Wednesday, Jan. 14, 2015 at Hofstra. Photo Credit: Newsday / Alejandra Villa

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said Wednesday that although community leaders have "valid" concerns in opposing a casino-style gaming parlor in Westbury, he will not intervene in the site selection process.

Cuomo's comments came after an event at Hofstra University. Asked if he would intercede with a proposal by Nassau OTB to place 1,000 state-approved video lottery terminals at the vacant Fortunoff store in Westbury, Cuomo said he didn't believe he had a role in the site approval process.

"I share the concerns of local officials," he said. "I have heard a lot of concerns about the Fortunoff location. . . . The concerns they raised seem valid to me but again it's not my decision."

A growing number of Republican and Democratic elected officials have voiced opposition to the Fortunoff site, including Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano and North Hempstead Supervisor Judi Bosworth.

A spokesman for Nassau Regional Off-Track Betting said the agency had no comment on Cuomo's remarks.

Meanwhile, state Sen. Jack Martins (R-Mineola) has called on OTB officials to consider placing the gaming parlor at the Nassau Coliseum, where a massive redevelopment project is to surround the arena. On Tuesday, Martins wrote on his Senate website that the Coliseum property "makes much more sense" because it is owned by Nassau, is in the process of being developed into a "destination complex" and has ample parking and major roadway access.

Forest City Ratner, the Brooklyn development firm working with Syosset-based Blumenfeld Development group on the Coliseum revamp, has said it opposes gaming machines on the site. On Wednesday, Forest City Ratner spokeswoman Ashley Cotton said the company had no comment on Martins' proposal.

Asked about Martins' proposal, Nassau OTB officials said Wednesday the agency had put out a request for interested property owners to come forward last April, and the Coliseum was not among the respondents.

An OTB spokesman said agency officials "will work closely with all of the elected officials who represent the surrounding areas, including Sen. Martins, to address any community concerns and answer any questions regarding the proposed location of the VLT facility."

State Sen. Kemp Hannon (R-Garden City), whose district includes the Fortunoff site, has yet to weigh in on the OTB's proposal. Hannon has not returned a week of phone calls made to his office by Newsday asking for his position on the proposal.With Robert Brodsky

and Celeste Hadrick

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