Gambling with State Parks’ Future

The proposed Sterling Forest Resort.

The proposed Sterling Forest Resort.

Three of the nine proposed sites for new casinos in the Catskills and Hudson Valley could impact the scenic vistas enjoyed by millions of visitors to New York’s parks and trails, as well as the natural resources protected by adjacent state parks. While casino operators duke it out for the winning bids, outdoor enthusiasts could end up the real losers.

A proposal by Caesars on Route 17 in Woodbury near Harriman State Park would have far-reaching viewshed impacts. Another proposal in Ulster County, Nevele Resort, Casino & Spa, would be located at the foot of the Shawangunk Mountains near Minnewaska State Park.

The biggest potential threat comes from the Sterling Forest Casino Resort, proposed by Genting Americas on a 240-acre inholding in Sterling Forest State Park on Route 17A in Tuxedo in Orange County. The 1.5 million-square-foot development is expected to draw 19,000 cars daily, with 6.9 million visitors per year.

The 22,000-acre Sterling Forest State Park is among the largest contiguous forests in the state and is home to endangered and threatened species. It was protected after a 10-year effort through the collaboration of the National Park Service, the states of New York and New Jersey, the Palisades Interstate Park Commission, and many conservation and trail organizations, including Parks & Trails New York.

In addition to the impact to the viewshed, the development would seriously impact critical habitat for nesting and migratory birds (it is a nationally recognized Important Bird Area) and the drinking water for 3 million residents in New York and New Jersey. The proposal would also likely require several acres of public parkland from Harriman State Park for a new Thruway exit.

Through the state’s selection and siting process, four casino sites will be named with at least one casino allowed in each of three regions: the Catskills and the Hudson Valley, which includes Orange, Sullivan and Ulster Counties; the Saratoga-Albany region; and a narrow strip in western New York, running from Binghamton north to the Canadian border. Up to two facilities may be sited in one region. The casino licenses are expected to be announced on December 17.

What You Can Do:

  • IMG_6741NEW: Comment on the draft Environmental Impact Statement (dEIS). The Town of Tuxedo has announced they will hold the first public hearing for the dEIS on December 4 from 7pm – 10pm at the Tuxedo Union Free School, One Tornado Drive, Tuxedo, NY 10987. See this document for more information and help preparing your comments and participating in the SEQRA process. Also, please attend this workshop on Dec. 1st.The public may also submit written comments until Dec. 19. Submit comments to:

Town of Tuxedo Supervisor
1 Temple Drive
Tuxedo, NY 10987

  • Write to the Gaming Facility Location Board. Tell them that a resort casino does not belong in Sterling Forest State Park, and to protect the critical habitat, watersheds, parks, trails and scenic viewsheds that sustainably make the Catskills and Hudson Valley region an important tourist destination:

New York Gaming Facility Location Board
New York State Gaming Commission
PO Box 7500
Schenectady, New York 12301-7500

Email: info@gaming.ny.gov

  • Write the Palisades Interstate Park Commission, which operates Harriman State Park, and urge it to uphold the public trust and refuse to cede land in Harriman State Park:

Philip H. White, President
Palisades Interstate Parks Commission
Administration Building
Bear Mountain, NY 10911-0427

The public is also able to attend Commission meetings; the next meeting is September 15 at 11:30 AM at Bear Mountain Inn, Bear Mountain State Park, Bear Mountain, New York.

  • Stay informed by signing up for updates from Save Sterling Forest, a network of organizations and individuals–including Parks & Trails New York–working to stop this development from infringing on Sterling Forest State Park.

 

 

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s