News of the Shinnecock Nation planning to construct their proposed casino on the edge of Southampton Village in Shinnecock is troubling indeed, for reasons obvious and less obvious.
To name just a few reasons:
Most immediately, think of traffic, always a big issue for us, and most definitely the corridors along Route 27, County Road 39 and Montauk Highway likely would be severely impacted, as would local bypasses within quiet residential neighborhoods.
However, increased traffic will require an increased police presence; a casino likely will increase incidences of crime, which also will require an increased police presence. Hence, a larger local police force will likely lead to an increase in taxes.
Is the fire station located in Shinnecock capable to respond to a potential event at a 76,000-square-foot casino facility, or would it require additional equipment and volunteers?
What would the impact be on our schools with the increase of employment of casino personnel, surely many of whom will come from elsewhere? What about light and sound pollution, which not only will impact the Shinnecock area but Southampton Village and Meadow Lane as well, with sound and light traveling unimpeded across Shinnecock Bay.
The bottom line is that our taxes will most likely increase to meet the demands and strains this proposed casino would put on our community, and our quality of life will deteriorate. We may not use the casino, but we will pay for it.
The Community Preservation Fund was created to preserve the rural character of the East End. It is used to purchase development rights of farmland. Why can it not be used to purchase the “casino development rights” of the Shinnecock Nation’s Westwood and Shinnecock properties? I cannot think of a better use of the fund myself.
The Shinnecock have for decades expressed their desire and economic need to construct a casino, and for decades local and state government has kicked the ball down the road. Sources at the state level tell me ideal alternate sites, from both the Shinnecock perspective and our local perspective, have been explored over the years, with sites on the Long Island Expressway, east of Jake’s 58, to sites in Queens having been considered.
We cannot flounder; we must act quickly and decisively to strike a deal with the nation irrespective of the cost, as the cost to do nothing will surely be too great a price for us to pay.
With a surge of real estate activity and prices over the past year, surely the CPF has coffers overflowing. We have done much to save Bridgehampton, Sagaponack, Water Mill and Southampton Town — now we must act to save Shinnecock.
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One fine body…