Bethlehem passes resolution opposed to Exit 23 casino

After nearly two dozen people spoke out against the proposed casino at Exit 23, the Town of Bethlehem passed a resolution in opposition to the project.

The resolution was passed Wednesday, May 28, following an informal public hearing. Representatives from Flaum Management and Capital District Off-Track Betting Corp. had been scheduled to make a presentation at the meeting, but they backed out, stating “it would be premature to present information to the town board” before their analysis on local impacts of the project were complete.

“Their rationale for non-attendance for a hearing they initially asked to be included in doesn’t hold water,” said Supervisor John Clarkson in a letter to the town board. “We never anticipated that their transportation analysis would be complete by this point in time. My letter asked for it by early June.”

Nearly two dozen people spoke against the proposal, some of them residents of the City of Albany and others members of the newly formed Bethlehem Community Voices. Many said they were concerned about the impact the casino would have on the local economy, and that the state could become over-saturated with casinos. Others questioned the types of jobs the casino would bring and worried about an increase in crime.

At the same meeting, the Bethlehem Police Department provided the Town Board with a statement regarding potential problems and complications.

“This proposal, if built, will change the character of the town in many respects,” the statement read.

The concerns included an increase in traffic issues and crime due to an influx of people, which would “raise demand on police services.” The police department also said a casino's population is “extremely transient in nature,” which would make if hard for the police force to complete investigations.

“The impact on the detective office in regards to follow-up investigations would be profound,” read the letter. “Currently the office is handling a wide array of identity theft [cases], and while they are typically viewed as white collar cases, the complexity to these cases and types of offenses, including credit card scams, counterfeit credit cards, counterfeit currency, as well as cons, tricks and swindles, would undoubtedly increase.”

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