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Islandia deputy mayor: Residents kept in dark on OTB casino plan

Deputy Mayor Diane Olk says village mailings announcing

Deputy Mayor Diane Olk says village mailings announcing a July 5 public hearing on a casino proposed for the Islandia Marriott had been delivered only to "a select few" residents. Credit: Newsday / John Paraskevas

Islandia’s deputy mayor has accused village officials of deliberately keeping many residents in the dark about a controversial Suffolk OTB casino proposal.

During a village board work session Tuesday night, Diane Olk said village mailings announcing a July 5 public hearing on the casino issue had been delivered only to “a select few” residents. In some cases, she said, letters announcing the meeting were placed in residents’ doors rather than sent by mail.

Olk called for the public hearing to be reopened because some residents were unaware of the July 5 meeting because of the lack of advance publicity.

“A lot of misinformation is out there with a lot of our residents,” Olk said at the work session. “Yet there were a select few that received one mailing or one letter put in their doors.”

Mayor Allan M. Dorman, a casino proponent, accused Olk of being a no-show at village meetings. He did not address how many homes received mailings about the casino plan.

“I’m glad, OK, that you are finally getting involved in something,” he said to Olk. “You’re making this part of your political campaign. . . . This village will move on.”

Dorman and Olk both are up for re-election next year.

Olk on Wednesday denied missing village meetings. Dorman did not return calls on Wednesday.

The work session was the village board’s first meeting since Dorman canceled a July 12 vote on the casino proposal.

Delaware North, the Buffalo entertainment giant developing the casino for Suffolk County Regional Off-Track Betting Corp., is seeking a special permit to build a casino with 1,000 video lottery terminals inside the Islandia Marriott Long Island hotel, on the Long Island Expressway north service road.

OTB officials have said the casino is a key part of their plan to help the agency emerge from bankruptcy. Dorman has said the casino could help the village reduce property taxes.

Dozens of speakers at the July 5 public hearing spoke against the casino. Fewer than 10 supported the proposal.

Dorman has said he canceled the July 12 vote because the board needed time for “due diligence” before voting on it. The vote has not been rescheduled.

The village board’s next scheduled meeting is Tuesday at 7:30 p.m.

Olk’s comments on Tuesday received applause from most of the approximately 35 people, many of them casino opponents, attending the meeting. Olk later was congratulated as she left after the meeting.

“She’s wonderful,” Arnold Rosenberg of Hauppauge said, adding the casino would “destroy the area.”

Olk said after the meeting she had kept an “open mind” about the casino. She said that changed when she learned about a June 23 letter announcing the July 5 hearing.

She said the letter was received by “two very small groups of people,” including about 20 homeowners. The village population is about 3,300.

The two-paragraph letter, addressed “Dear Neighbor” and signed by Dorman, refers to Delaware North and the special permit application, but does not mention Suffolk OTB, the hotel or video lottery terminals. Olk showed the letter to a Newsday reporter.

Olk, who has been a village trustee for 11 years and also serves as deputy mayor, said she previously has run for office with Dorman as a running mate. She said she does not plan to be part of Dorman’s ticket next year.

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