Islandia Mayor Allan M. Dorman on Thursday defended the village’s handling of a controversial Suffolk OTB casino proposal and said criticism by a village board member lacked “credibility.”
Deputy Mayor Diane Olk had criticized the mayor during a work session on Tuesday, saying letters announcing a July 5 public hearing had been distributed only to “a select few” residents. She called for the hearing to be reopened so more residents could weigh in on the plan.
In a statement released Thursday by the village’s public relations firm, Dorman said the village had adequately notified residents about the hearing.
“A highly publicized meeting was held on July 5th,” Dorman said in the statement. “The village made every effort to communicate the meeting to all residents and based on the high level of attendance at the meeting, it is difficult to give Ms. Olk’s statements credibility.”
Delaware North, the Buffalo-based entertainment company developing the casino for Suffolk County Regional Off-Track Betting Corp., has requested a special permit to install 1,000 video lottery terminals and a racing simulcast facility in the Islandia Marriott Long Island hotel on the Long Island Expressway north service road.
Dorman canceled a July 12 vote on the request. The vote has not been rescheduled. The board’s next meeting is Tuesday.
Dozens of people, including some from neighboring hamlets including Ronkonkoma and Hauppauge, spoke against the casino at the July 5 hearing. Fewer than 10 speakers favored the casino.
Olk on Thursday said the mayor appeared to have been unprepared for a large crowd that spilled out of Village Hall during the hearing. She said Dorman imposed unprecedented time limits on speakers, who were asked to fill out forms requesting time to speak.
“From that I can only surmise that he knew that it was going to be a contentious issue, and should have prepared accordingly and in a proper setting,” Olk said.
Dorman’s statement added: “During the meeting, all residents and nonresidents in attendance were given an opportunity to speak. The vast majority of attendees opposed to the proposal were nonresident members of civic associations from outside the village.”
Two civic leaders on Thursday sided with Olk in the dispute.
“The mayor doesn’t want to know that there’s opposition out there,” said Larry Kelter, president of the Wind Watch Homeowners Association in Hauppauge. “He wants to push this through without any negative feedback.”
Ronkonkoma Civic Association president Bruce Edwards, who opposes the casino, said the village failed to adequately publicize the hearing, which he said he learned about from social media postings.
“It seems from what Ms. Olk said that a very small percentage of residents received letters . . . and that is very troubling,” Edwards said.