By Matt Youngfrau
SULLIVAN COUNTY February 09, 2001 - For several decades now, people throughout Sullivan County have discussed the possibility of gambling coming to the area.
In that time, many attempts have been made to that to reality, and over the last six years, a local casino has loomed ever larger on the horizon. In fact, the countys Casino Gaming Committee (Rusty Pomeroy, Bob Kunis, Tony Cellini, Greg Goldstein, and Jerry Skoda) has stated that they feel a casino in Sullivan County is closer than ever.
However, there are obstacles to that plan, and not all of them are necessarily coming from Atlantic City casino mogul Donald Trump. A lawsuit that is still in court may change the landscape, making it even more difficult to bring a casino to New York State, let alone Sullivan County and its being brought by residents of the state.
Filed last year by the Saratoga Chamber of Commerce and other interested parties (including Forestburgh resident Lee Karr), the lawsuit challenges the law as it pertains to allowing Indian gaming casinos. When first filed, it was meant as a way to block the expansion of a casino in Saratoga Springs. If it is successful now, it could make getting a casino anywhere very difficult.
"I am surprised that more is not written or discussed on this matter," Karr stated. "I feel this is the reason many of the projects [such as the Concord, the Bethel Performing Arts Center, etc.] have been delayed."
Naturally, the members of the Gaming Committee disagree with that statement, but those who were contacted (Pomeroy, Cellini, and Goldstein) did not wish to get into any further debate on the issue.
Karr has been invited to speak to the committee several times about his concerns but has declined to appear. He said he prefers to debate the issue in public forums and does not want to get into a shouting match (something all members of the committee have denied would happen).
County Attorney Ira Cohen did admit that he has been concerned about the issue. Although he plans on moving forward, he said he will keep an eye on the situation.
On the state level, New York State Governor George Pataki has challenged this suit twice, and the latest appeal is still in court. The first set of papers on the case is due by March 6.