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Brookhaven civic group opposes plans for casino on Medford site

Tim Mazzei, a Republican, said he would support

Tim Mazzei, a Republican, said he would support a gambling facility because it would boost the local economy. Credit: Newsday/David Pokress

A civic group has come out against plans for a gaming facility at the site of a closed Medford movie theater.

The Affiliated Brookhaven Civic Organization, in a July 29 letter to Brookhaven Town officials, said it would oppose plans to alter town zoning to allow gambling on a 9-acre property on the south service road of the Long Island Expressway. The town board is expected to vote on the zoning change on Aug. 12.

The parcel, currently zoned for residential uses, is part of a 32-acre site that is under consideration by Suffolk County officials for a casino with up to 1,000 video lottery terminals. County officials have selected Delaware North, a Buffalo-based gaming and hospitality company, to operate a casino.

The majority of the vacant parcel, formerly the site of the Brookhaven Multiplex, already is zoned for commercial recreation, including gaming, town officials said.

The civic group's letter said the site is near a business that provides games and recreation for children.

"ABCO members believe that the burdens and negative impacts forced on the communities that play host to gaming and casinos far outweigh any of the alleged benefits stemming from allowing such activities," said the letter, signed by the civic group's president, MaryAnn Johnston of Yaphank. "The people of our town have long been vocal in their opposition to siting gambling operations anywhere within our town."

Town Councilman Timothy Mazzei said he would support the zoning change and the gambling facility because it would boost the local economy.

"It's going to bring in a lot of money to Suffolk County and the Town of Brookhaven," Mazzei said Wednesday. "I think we're going to get people who normally go to Connecticut or New York City or New Jersey, and they'll now stay on Long Island."

Mazzei said developers hope to open the facility next July Fourth.

Town Attorney Annette Eaderesto said the county has not asked to change the zoning. She said the current residential zoning is "inappropriate" because the parcel is between two commercial properties.

Mazzei said the property would be a good location for a casino because it is near the expressway and there is a buffer between the site and nearby homes.

"It really is an ideal site for that facility," he said. "The positives are really tremendous."

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