Local civic members are going all-in to fight a proposed gambling facility in Brookhaven Town.
After New York voters passed a referendum in 2013 that allowed for seven casinos in the state, the Suffolk Regional Off-Track Betting Corporation proposed putting a 1,000-machine casino at the former Brookhaven Multiplex Cinemas in Medford. But town residents, particularly those living in the Medford area, have railed against the project, citing concerns about it causing traffic congestion and promoting crime, drug use and prostitution.
The proposal, for a nearly 32-acre site off of the Long Island Expressway near Exit 64, is awaiting approval from the Suffolk County Planning Commission.
Delaware North, the company that runs the Finger Lakes Gaming & Racetrack and Hamburg Gaming in upstate New York, would operate the Medford facility.
The local residents who oppose the 1,000 lottery machines, known as video lottery terminals, have found allies in the Port Jefferson Station/Terryville Civic Association. At the group’s March 25 meeting, the members voted to take an official stand against the gambling facility, upon a suggestion from executive board member Frank Gibbons.
The Terryville resident said residents must push their elected officials to derail the casino.
“If all of us get united across this entire township and say, ‘You do this and we’re going to vote you all out of office,’ I bet they’ll find a way.”
Town officials have said that their hands are tied, and they have no role in choosing where the gambling facility will be built. The town board has hired global law firm Nixon Peabody LLP to issue its own legal opinion on the matter.
The town board also approved an anti-casino statement in late January, introduced by Councilman Neil Foley (R-Blue Point).
“These are blights in a community and serve no purpose in the suburbs,” Councilwoman Jane Bonner (C-Rocky Point) said at the time.
The Port Jefferson Station/Terryville civic members voted against a gambling facility being built at the proposed site in Medford or anywhere else in Brookhaven Town.
“Because if it’s not Medford, it could be Bicycle Path,” President Ed Garboski said. “It could be Centereach.”
Jeff Napoleon, a Port Jefferson Station resident, said members should authorize the executive board to “to make our feelings known that we’re against this and to take whatever steps … in any way they deem appropriate. That way as they uncover things, they can take action.”
The civic supported that measure, adding it to their vote of opposition to the gambling facility.
“This is obviously a complicated issue,” Napoleon said. “A lot of angles to it.”