By Matt Youngfrau
MONTICELLO December 14, 2001 Ever since the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe and Sullivan County came to an agreement for a resort hotel and casino at Kutsher's Sports Academy last summer, an entire countys eyes have been on the project. Things have moved fairly quickly, as all that remains is approval of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the United States Department of the Interior, and a signed compact with New York State Governor George Pataki.
Another step in the process took place Wednesday night when the Town of Thompson Planning Board held a public scoping session so residents could review the casino application. Approximately 200 people packed the Thompson Town Hall to witness Mohawk and Park Place Entertainment representatives discuss the plan.
Because he lives near the project, Planning Board Chair James Lyttle recused himself from the session, and Board Member Patrice Chester chaired the meeting.
Town Attorney Josephine Finn said the main purpose was to analyze the environmental impacts. Both the planning board and the casino representatives wanted public input into the matter and allowed public comment, which is usually reserved for public hearings only.
Tribe representatives said the initial casino will be on 66 of 207 acres where Kutshers Sports Academy currently sits. They will build a 750-room hotel, a casino with 3,500 slot machines and 100 gaming tables, a 2,000-seat entertainment venue, a restaurant, a spa, and large parking areas that can support over 5,000 parking spaces in total. The hotel will be 10-12 stories tall, and the entire project will take 24 months to construct.
Consultants reviewed improvements that would have to be made to the infrastructure like water pipes, gas lines, roadways and electrical wiring to handle the greatly increased usage.
Although wetlands are near the site, officials said there will be a very minor impact on them.
Once the presentation was over, very few members of the public spoke, and those who did asked about traffic, school, workforce and tax impacts.
Chester pointed out that the public had 10 days to comment on the project. The documents are available at the Thompson Town Hall, and comments can be left there. After the 10-day period, the scoping document will be adopted by the planning board. More public hearings are expected in the future.