I am writing as a concerned citizen in opposition to the proposed Caesars casino in Woodbury, NY. It is the wrong project in the wrong place, proposed for the wrong reasons.
The Palisades Interstate Park abuts this beautiful, rolling 129-acre open space to the west and the south. To the east, the 129 acres look across to pristine fields and a forest ridgeline featuring Mt. Arama, the highest peak in the Ramapo Mountain range, most of which will also become a Palisades Interstate Park property. This view and the natural heritage it represents has remained the same since the Leni Lenape nation had settlements in the eighteenth century along the Ramapo River bordering the 129-acre open space. This natural viewscape will be wasted on the 10 million gambling customers per year, tucked inside windowless gambling parlors. Because of its proximity to metropolitan New York, Caesars is betting that few gamblers will venture further north and west to distressed communities with casinos. This in a community already choked with traffic from the 13 million annual shoppers visiting Woodbury Common less than two miles away.
Most of those shoppers only traverse the local roads for a quarter of a mile, but keep them clogged to a standstill. No amount of road widening can mitigate the magnitude of the traffic influx in this already-prosperous community. Please note that, because of the current traffic, the immediate area around Woodbury Common does not meet Federal Clean Air levels.
Furthermore, Caesars’ proposed road-widening calls for dismantling the Norfolk Southern Railroad Bridge in Harriman, which has served as a barrier south and will open Route 17 to eighteen-wheelers intent on avoiding the NY State Thruway tolls. Already known locally as Bloody 17, adding big trucks to the traffic mix barreling down the narrow four-lane road through Southfields, Tuxedo, and Sloatsburg will make that stretch of road even more perilous.
The proposed Woodbury casino site is just two miles north of the Appalachian Trail and the western entrance to Harriman State Park. Is a casino really the proper gateway to one of New York State’s most magnificent natural resources visited by thousands of New Yorkers and nature lovers each month?
Evidence shows that the host community is conflicted at best about endorsing the project. The Woodbury Town government endorsements aside, significant numbers of its citizens do not welcome it; do not want the traffic; the intense activity; and the social degradation associated with casino gambling. The state must respect this community’s reluctance. A divided community is the wrong host for the Caesars casino operation.
The Upstate New York Gaming Economic Development Act of 2013 was intended explicitly to bring casino jobs to economically distressed areas upstate. That hardly describes the town of Woodbury, which is the wealthiest community in Orange County. It has prosperous businesses and the single-most visited tourist site (Woodbury Commons) outside of Manhattan, in the entire state. If the casino project is intended to foster economic development, Woodbury is the wrong choice.
Certainly other communities in the Catskills/Hudson Valley gaming region can be found that are more suitable, more economically distressed, and without an environmental treasure and legacy to protect. Choosing Woodbury is wrong.
Send Letters to:
New York State Gaming Commission
Facility Location Selection Committee
c/o Gail P. Thorpe
P.O. Box 7500
Schenectady, NY 12301-7500
or via email to: [email protected]
Palisades Interstate Park Commission
P.O. Box 147
Bear Mountain, NY 10911 [email protected]
The Honorable Andrew M. Cuomo
Governor, State of New York
NY State Capital Building
Albany, NY 12224
Rose Harvey, Commissioner
NYS Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation
Albany NY, 12238
Joseph Martens, Commissioner
NYS Department of Environmental Conservation
Albany, NY 12233-1010