Suffolk OTB officials plan to meet Tuesday with Medford community leaders to discuss the planned $65 million gaming facility near Exit 64 of the Long Island Expressway.
Officials with Suffolk Off-Track Betting Corp. said they and representatives of Buffalo-based Delaware North, which would operate the facility, hope to sway members of Medford's civic association, fire department and chamber of commerce at the meeting, amid community opposition to the casino.
OTB has proposed a 98,735-square-foot casino with as many as 1,000 video lottery machines and 1,400 parking spaces at a site formerly occupied by the Brookhaven Multiplex.
Many Medford residents have criticized the plan, and skeptical members of the Suffolk County Planning Commission raised questions last week about sewage and potential crime at the site.
"We intend this to be one of the safest pieces of real estate" on Long Island, OTB president Phil Nolan said in an interview Friday. "If it's not safe, it's not going to be successful."
"We're going to show them the plan. We're going to give them more details of the plan," OTB vice president Tony Pancella said. "We're going to show them it will be a welcome addition to the community."
Pancella said the meeting, which is invitation-only, would be held at 5:30 p.m. at OTB headquarters in Hauppauge.
Don Seubert, vice president of the Medford Taxpayers and Civic Association, said he is concerned about the "social impact" of a casino, such as drugs and prostitution.
"We are a community at risk. Telling people you're coming in with a bulldozer to take over your town is not the way to do things," said Seubert, who plans to attend the meeting. "We need a higher, better use of that property."
Medford Chamber of Commerce president Paige M. Tarver, who also plans to be at the meeting, said she had mixed feelings about the casino.
"I want to know what the community wants. If the community is more against it, then there's reasons for that and I want them to be heard," said Tarver, who owns a Medford florist shop. "I want to know that they're listening to the community and they know what we want."
Nolan said Medford residents would have "favored status" for some of the estimated 400 jobs at the casino. He and Pancella said the 31.6-acre property is littered with drug paraphernalia and illegally dumped trash.
More than a dozen Medford residents voiced opposition to the casino at a Brookhaven Town Board meeting Thursday night. Brookhaven officials said the town has no role in the issue because video lottery terminals and OTB facilities are exempt from local zoning under state law.
OTB officials have agreed to submit a site plan to the town planning board, which could rule on details such as drainage, sewage, signs and traffic.
"We don't need approval from them, but we certainly want to let them know what we're doing," Pancella said.