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Islandia casino site a better fit than Medford, say officials

The Village of Islandia is holding a public

The Village of Islandia is holding a public hearing on Wednesday, July 5, 2016, regarding building a Suffolk OTB video lottery terminal casino at the Marriott hotel. Credit: Newsday / John Paraskevas

The Islandia site chosen by Suffolk OTB officials for a mini-casino with up to 1,000 video slot machines is not likely to generate as much opposition as a previous location in Medford, local officials said in interviews last week.

Fewer nearby homes and greater support from Village of Islandia officials suggest that Suffolk County Regional Off-Track Betting Corp. officials will find a better reception there than they did in Medford, several county officials said.

Suffolk OTB is proposing a plan in which Delaware North, the Buffalo entertainment conglomerate developing the casino, will buy and operate the Islandia Marriott hotel and lease space for the betting parlor to OTB.

OTB dropped the Medford proposal earlier this year due to opposition from residents and what they said was “obstructionist behavior” by Brookhaven Town officials.

Legis. Tom Cilmi, whose Suffolk district includes the Islandia site, said he has received few calls about the casino plan from residents, though some callers cited the hotel’s proximity to Motor Parkway, a major thoroughfare.

“The feedback has not been overwhelming one way or the other. There are concerns, appropriate concerns, about traffic,” Cilmi (R-Bay Shore) said. “Motor Parkway is a county road, so that’s a concern.”

Delaware North is seeking a special permit from Islandia officials to add the casino to the hotel, on the north service road of the Long Island Expressway. A public hearing on the request is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, at Village Hall.

OTB officials and Islandia Mayor Allan M. Dorman did not return calls seeking comment.

OTB officials confirmed their interest in the Islandia site in a June 29 letter to U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Carla E. Craig, who is overseeing the financially ailing OTB’s bankruptcy case. OTB officials have said the casino is crucial to efforts to dig the agency out of bankruptcy.

The letter, which cited a June 24 Newsday story about the Islandia plan, said a “temporary” casino with up to 300 video lottery terminals could open at the hotel within four months; the permanent casino with 1,000 VLTs would open later.

OTB is expected to address the plan on Wednesday during a hearing in Bankruptcy Court in Brooklyn.

Suffolk lawmakers said the Islandia site appears to have several advantages over the Medford location. For example, the hotel is on a commercial strip, and most Islandia residents live south of the Expressway, while the hotel is on the north side.

“I think in a lot of ways that it suits what they’re trying to accomplish,” said Legis. Rob Calarco (D-Patchogue), who represents Medford and had opposed placing the casino there. “I’m not going to say it’s the right place, but it’s certainly a better place than Medford.”

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