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Shinnecocks eye Wang property in Plainview for casino

Federal recognition would allow the Shinnecocks to have

Federal recognition would allow the Shinnecocks to have video lottery terminals, like these at a casino in Pennsylvania, but not table games. (May 22, 2009) Photo Credit: Bloomberg News

The Shinnecock Indian Nation is considering an extensive Plainview property owned by Charles Wang, the owner of the New York Islanders, as a potential casino site.

According to tribal trustee Lance Gumbs, the Shinnecocks recently looked at the 144 acres of mostly woodland between Old Country Road and Round Swamp Road.

The parcel is attractive as a casino site, Gumbs said, due to its proximity to the Long Island Expressway and because it's a far larger piece of property than some of the others the tribe is considering, including the land around the Nassau Coliseum owned by the county. The Coliseum is the home of the Islanders.

"It's an interesting piece of property," Gumbs told Newsday. "We have taken a look at it. It's more acreage than the Coliseum." The Plainview site is roughly double the size of the county-owned land that surrounds the Coliseum.

The Shinnecocks have said they have compiled a list of more than 30 potential casino sites across the Island. The tribe expects to complete site selection before the end of the year.

Wang bought the Plainview property from Nassau County more than 10 years ago during the county's financial crisis. In 2003, he proposed an extensive mixed-use development for the site, calling his project Old Plainview and suggesting retail, housing, a hotel and office space.

But at a town board hearing in March 2007, amid heavy community opposition, Wang withdrew his application for a zoning change.

Michael Picker, who oversees Wang's real estate holdings, would not comment specifically on either the Plainview or Nassau Coliseum locations as potential sites for a casino.

"As with all our properties, we are always willing to review any economically viable opportunities presented to us," Picker said.

Wang is currently in talks with Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano about a new or renovated Nassau Coliseum and potential uses for the land around the arena. The Coliseum lease for the Islanders expires in 2015.

Mangano declined to comment; Hempstead Town spokesman Michael Deery did not return calls for comment. Oyster Bay supervisor John Venditto said he hadn't heard anything about the idea of a casino on Wang's Plainview land.

"This has to be utter nonsense," Venditto said. "My relationship with Charles, coupled with Charles' respect for the town of Oyster Bay, means something like this could never happen without Charles reaching out to me. I have to dismiss this out of hand."

And planning advocates said they don't expect the Plainview property to rise to the top of the Shinnecocks' list, in part because of community opposition.

"I can't see how this would make a top five or top 10 or top 20 list," said Eric Alexander, who heads Vision Long Island, a smart growth group.

Critics pounced on the idea.

"It's so out of character for the area and out of character for a single-family community that the town of Oyster Bay professes to be," said Carol Meschkow, who heads Concerned Citizens of the Plainview-Old Bethpage Community.

Meschkow said she would prefer the land - what she called the "largest and last remaining open tract of space in Oyster Bay" - to remain as open or recreational space.

State Sen. Carl Marcellino (R-Syosset) pointed to traffic and water use concerns.

"I just don't see it as a viable location," Marcellino said. "We'd love to see the property on the tax rolls, but in a productive way that takes care of our needs."


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