By Matt Youngfrau
MONTICELLO August 14, 2001 On Friday, county officials quest to bring a casino to the area came one step closer as the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe and Sullivan County reached an agreement in principle to have one at Kutsher's Country Club in Monticello.
The deal calls for the county, the Town of Thompson, and others affected by the casino to receive $15 million a year from Park Place Entertainment and the tribe. Sullivan County will receive additional money once the Mohawks cut a deal with New York State. The county will get a portion of that money annually as well.
Both sides were very pleased with the deal. In a press release sent out by Park Place Entertainment, Chief Paul Thompson of the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe stated, "The support and cooperation of the county and town leaders and community members is essential to moving forward on the development of a resort/casino in Sullivan County. We are pleased that an agreement has been finally reached, and we don't anticipate any further delays."
Park Place Entertainment President and Chief Executive Officer Thomas Gallagher added, "This is a big win for everyone involved. It was important to us to reach a deal with the county that everyone was happy with, and this agreement does that."
The county's support of the project was crucial for approval to be granted by the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs and state lawmakers. Now, the Mohawks must settle a land claim with New York State before a gaming compact can be signed.
Once the compact is signed, it must be approved by the State Legislature and the governor. The final approval must come from the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Along the way, they may also have to face anti-gambling proponents.
Nevertheless, this was good news for casino proponents.
"We are thrilled that we were able to reach across the table and reach an agreement that will benefit the entire county," Sullivan County Legislature Chair Rusty Pomeroy stated in the release. "We believed it was crucial not to be totally dependent on Albany for compensation from the resort/casino, and we think this separate agreement, along with the economic benefits a resort/casino will bring, is a huge win for the county. We look forward to joining with Park Place and the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe to ensure this project receives speedy approval at all levels."
"I am pleased to be part of a process that is bringing 4,000 jobs to the Town of Thompson and a substantial payment to offset expenses of the town," remarked Thompson Supervisor Tony Cellini. "The Catskills will again be a premier resort destination."
The Tribe is expected to approve the agreement today, followed by the county legislature on Thursday.