Suffolk OTB: Medford remains 'viable option' for casino
Suffolk OTB officials say a Medford site remains "a viable option" for a video lottery casino despite a civic organization's opposition to the project.
The vacant, 32-acre site on the Long Island Expressway South Service Road, about a mile east of Route 112, is seen by OTB officials as a backup plan if they are unable to expand Jake's 58, the successful Islandia betting parlor that has 1,000 video lottery terminals.
The Medford Taxpayers and Civic Association declined to participate in a Jan. 14 online presentation about the project. The virtual meeting, which OTB officials said was called at the behest of Brookhaven Town officials, drew fewer than 10 viewers.
In a statement, OTB spokesman Jon Schneider said Jake's 58 "is the most successful casino in New York State, enjoyed by tens of thousands of Long Islanders. As we look to meet Long Island's strong demand for more machines, we have been clear that while it is our hope to expand in Islandia, Medford remains a viable option and we will continue to be a great community partner wherever we operate."
Suffolk County Regional Off-Track Betting Corp. officials have said they plan to seek authorization from the state Legislature for an additional 1,000 video lottery terminals at Jake's 58 or another location.
But OTB could build a second casino if Islandia Village officials reject the Jake's 58 expansion, Suffolk OTB president and chief executive Jim LaCarrubba said last month in an interview. LaCarrubba did not take part in Thursday's meeting.
Brett Houdek, president of the Medford Taxpayers and Civic Association, said in an interview members of the group declined to participate in Thursday's meeting because they believe it was premature. He said plans should not be presented for public review until the state authorizes more terminals, adding he doesn't believe the casino is legal under Brookhaven zoning codes.
"We just feel we’re being used again. We don’t know why they’re pursuing this site when clearly we have a strong legal case," Houdek said in an interview. "We didn’t see the point in reviewing an incomplete process."
Attempts by OTB to sell the Medford property have been unsuccessful.
In papers filed in 2019, OTB officials said they planned to build a 160,000-square-foot casino with restaurants, bars and an underground garage. A previous proposal for a 98,000-square-foot betting parlor was withdrawn in 2016 amid opposition from Medford residents and Brookhaven officials.
OTB officials have not submitted plans to Brookhaven officials. Town officials declined to comment.
During Thursday's meeting, OTB consultant Charles Voorhis of Melville engineering firm Nelson Pope Voorhis said the casino would be housed in a two-story building served by an on-site sewage treatment plant. Renderings showed "Jake's" emblazoned on the building.
People who viewed the meeting were invited to comment on the plans, but none did so.