Neighbors of proposed casino site question proposal ahead of county vote

Courtesy of Traditions at the Glen
January 23, 2014

Part of the application process to build one of upstate’s new casinos is to show local support for a casino. The Broome County legislature appears set to pass a resolution tonight that would champion a casino in the county.  

Traditions at the Glen in Johnson City is the top Broome County contender for the Southern Tier’s casino license so far. And they have been on a complete media blitz. They’ve held lavish community gatherings, an informational kiosk at the mall, and even a commercial.

“Think bigger with a new casino. Bringing new traditions to the area while maintaining the beauty and experience you’ve grown to love.”

At least one neighbor of the proposed site isn’t so sure about that.

When you walk up to Lee Spadine’s house, you’ll notice a sign in his front yard. It’s black with casino spelled in white letters but the N and the O at the end of the word are highlighted in red. Spadine says his neighbors agree that a casino won’t fit in here.

“We’re not against casinos but we feel like it’s trying to be shoehorned into this space.”

Standing on his back porch, Spadine points out that the current plan includes a 2,000-car parking lot just beyond his backyard.

“Our bedrooms and everything go out to here. So we’re going to have this area that is extremely well lit right in our backyard.”

Spadine is also concerned about increased traffic in the area, crime, and the negative effects on his property value.

But, so far, Spadine is fighting what looks like a lonely battle.

Daniel Reynolds is the minority leader of the Broome County legislature. Reynolds says Traditions is the logical chose for a casino in Broome County.

“Our resolution is non-specific as far as the applicant but the one applicant that’s stepped up recently, the Walsh family, has a history of being a solid member of the community and an important company.”

Reynolds said a casino could go a long way to rebuild the poor economy in Broome County.

Spadine said this isn’t what he voted for when he supported Proposition 1 back in November. Spadine says it was a bait and switch.

“I will tell you, talking to a lot of people, when we voted for Proposition 1, we were voting that we agreed that a casino could be put in and we all thought it was at Tioga Downs. There was no other ones. We did not vote to put a casino in our backyard.”

Tioga Downs in the next county over also plans to apply for the license. There’s already gambling at its racetrack and video slot machines.

Colleen McCabe is the county legislator for the district where Traditions wants to build its casino.  And she introduced the resolution coming up for a vote tonight. 

McCabe says that Spadine is right. At the time of the vote on Prop 1, there wasn’t a bid in Broome County and the assumption was that Tioga would become a casino.

“But I think it is important to take a minute and really understand the benefits that the county and the towns and villages would receive from having it in our backyard.”

Last week the County Administration Committee unanimously passed the resolution to bring it for a full vote with the legislature. McCabe is hoping to get the same result tonight.