Goldberg Considered To Be 'Persuasive'
By John Emerson
FERNDALE May 19, 2000 -- People in the Sullivan County Partnership for Economic Development came away from their meeting with Park Place Entertainment CEO Arthur Goldberg convinced that, if he truly wants a casino in the Catskills, it will happen.
When is another question.
Im not at all convinced that Park Place is in this for real, said Gene Blabey, the owner of radio station WVOS and a Partnership member. I thought that some of the arguments he made were very persuasive, but the timetable he proposed is wildly optimistic, and the figures of what he has already invested are simply not believable.
The meeting, held at the Granite Associates (Cablevision) in Ferndale, was closed to the media and anyone else who was not a member of the Partnership or specifically invited. To insure the privacy of the get-together, State Police were stationed at the end of the driveway leading to the building and turned away anyone who had no reason to be there.
Partnership President Michael Sullivan said about 125 people attended the meeting and that Goldbergs message to the group was that he wants to work with Catskill Development to create an interim casino at the track as quickly as possible. He told the audience that there was a critical need for more hotel rooms if an Indian gaming casino plus a 350,000-square-foot convention center came to the area.
The Partnerships position in this is that we would be more than happy to facilitate a meeting between Catskill and Park Place, Sullivan said. I dont think Sullivan County cares who the partners are, we just want to get the damn thing done, and it can be done most expeditiously at the track.
Chamber President Jacquie Leventoff said she came away from the meeting also feeling that Goldberg was a man who does what he wants to do.
He was very straightforward, she said. I think hes for real, and hes going to do it if he wants to do it. Hes a powerful man, and hes looking to do this.
At one point during the meeting, County Legislature Chairman Rusty Pomeroy explained that the countys position was continued support for the approved raceway site and that Goldbergs application for an Indian casino at Kutshers Country Club in Monticello complete with hotel, convention center and other amenities would not automatically be given the countys blessings.
Apparently, Goldberg took strong issue with Pomeroys comments after the meeting. Several people who attended the meeting said Goldberg excoriated Pomeroy in an aside, cursing and swearing at him.
We had an open and frank exchange of views, Pomeroy said yesterday. I think we cleared some air, and now I hope we can move forward.
Pomeroy confirmed that he told Goldberg the countys support was for the raceway site, and if that site which already has federal approval is scrapped, the situation will change.
If were talking about scrapping the approved site, then Ill be entertaining what I think will be several other applications, he said. I wont jump on this without exploring others that may be considered, and the support will go to the one thats best for the county. Right now, I think that project thats approved is the one that should go forward, and I dont think its dead by a long shot.