By Frank Rizzo
MONTICELLO Last Tuesday, in a packed Town of Thompson Hall, the principals of the companies behind the Concord redevelopment projected a vision of a four-season destination resort.
With the promise of jobs, lots of jobs.
And tax revenues for strapped municipalities.
And economic spinoffs for the surrounding region.
Even Town of Thompson Supervisor Tony Cellini was impressed. The political veteran had seen a number of presentations for big projects before. None had even remotely come to pass.
Entertainment Properties Trust, with its billions in assets, and its partner, Empire Resorts, have Cellini’s hopes up.
The meeting ostensibly was to hold a public hearing on the project’s Draft Environmental Impact Study (EIS). Nanette H. Bourne, senior vice president of AKRF, environmental consultants of White Plains, talked about the progress in the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) process.
“It’s two-thirds of the way through,” she noted, and now awaited the next steps, including changes in the town’s land use/zoning policies as well as public comment (which ends September 7).
With two massive binders on the table nearby, Bourne said that the EIS, with appendices, ran to more that 3,000 pages.
“And I’ve read every page of it, too,” interjected Cellini, to laughter.
Among the highlights of the EIS Bourne cited: Within the 1500-plus acres to be developed, there are 230 acres of protected wetlands; a little over eight will be disturbed. Also, 10 intersections leading to the proposed resort will need improvements.
Architect A. James Tinson, CEO of the firm designing the project, NYC’s Hart | Howerton, called the revived Concord, “the next great resort. A place to attract people for generations to come… sustainable and a lasting part of this community.”
He made special reference to the fabled Monster golf course on the site.
“No one I’ve talked to doesn’t know about the Monster,” Tinson said. “They’re excited to know we’re going to bring it back.”
Empire Resorts will lease about 200 acres from EPT and according to a joint letter sent to the Democrat by the companies, “The proposed development plans include the relocation of the existing Monticello Casino and Raceway licenses to engage in video gaming machine and harness horse racing operations to the site of the former Concord resort. … If legalized table games are approved in New York State, we expect to be considered for such a license.”
At its peak, the resort is projected to provide the equivalent of 6,300 full time jobs and over 10,000 in total.
In the public comment period, politicians and other officials spoke glowingly of the project’s benefits and urged quick action on the part of the Thompson Town Board to move the process along.
Though Bourne promised to “pursue a vigorous schedule,” no groundbreaking date has been announced as of yet. In published reports, developers said they hope to break ground early next year.