By Matt Youngfrau
MONTICELLO April 23, 2002 Throughout New York State, eyes are focused on Sullivan County.
One of the many reasons is the Akwesasne Mohawk Mountain Resort and Casino the St. Regis Mohawk tribes planned casino at Kutsher's Sports Academy in Kiamesha Lake. The casino would be operated by Park Place Entertainment.
Park Place representatives offered an update on the project on Thursday, April 18 at the Sullivan County Legislature's Committee on Casino Gaming. The committee was formed when the Legislature came into existence over six years ago and has met from time to time since then. The committee consists of three Legislators: Committee Chair Bob Kunis, Majority Leader Leni Binder, and Minority Leader Rodney Gaebel.
"We have met sporadically in the past, but we will meet more often in the future," Kunis said at the onset of the meeting. "We will hear what they [the representatives] have to say. They are here to increase our confidence level."
Representing Park Place at the meeting were their local attorneys Barbara and Walter Gargliano, local Engineer Glenn Smith, and Park Place's local representative Chuck Miller.
The project, said the group, will be built on 207 acres at Kutshers. The hotel will have 750 rooms. The casino will feature 3,500 slots and 100 table games. There will also be seven restaurants, a 2,000-seat theater, and parking for over 5,000 cars.
While all the plans are in place and about ready to go, several obstacles must be cleared. The tribe still needs the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) approval for their application to take the land-into-trust. The National Indian Gaming Committee (NIGC) must approve the management deal between Park Place and the Mohawks. Lastly, the governor needs to make a deal with the tribe as well.
Barbara Gargliano stated what the next steps locally would be.
"The DEIS [Draft Environmental Impact Statement] will be going to the Thompson Planning Board. After that, we will hold another public forum."
"This is just the beginning," Kunis stated at the conclusion of the meeting. "Sullivan County is a partner in this project, and we will help it move forward. It will help to reshape the economic picture."