New York: Las Vegas Sands' $4 billion casino resort proposal faces scrutiny at Hempstead Town hearing

New York: Las Vegas Sands' $4 billion casino resort proposal faces scrutiny at Hempstead Town hearing
Wild Casino

Las Vegas Sands' proposed$4 billion casino resort in Uniondale, facing scrutiny for its potential environmental impact, took center stage at aHempstead Town hearing on Thursday. Engineers and planners are set to evaluate over 100 intersections, water availability, and air quality surrounding the Nassau Coliseum site.

The gathering at the Long Island Marriott in Uniondale drew both supporters and opponents of the project, marking one of the largest public hearings since Sands expressed its intent to vie for a state gaming license on the 72-acre county-owned property, Newsday reported.

The environmental "scoping sessions" are part of the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) process, where experts provided insights into traffic patterns and air quality implications. During the morning session, approximately 60 speakers presented their views on the project's environmental impact to Town Supervisor Don Clavin and the town board.

Concerns voiced by opponents included potential air and noise pollution, water supply depletion, increased crime, and gambling addiction. Meanwhile, supporters emphasized the economic benefits, highlighting job creation and the overall positive impact on the area.

Hempstead Town hasenlisted the services of the Melville engineering firm Nelson and Pope for an environmental review. VHB, the consulting firm hired by Sands to analyze the project's environmental impact, assured a comprehensive assessment, covering ecological resources, land use, zoning, and community character.

In May, the Nassau County Legislature voted 17-1 to grant the gaming and hospitality giant a 99-year lease to develop the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum site in Uniondale, Long Island. However, this move was soon after contested in court.

Sands, seeking approval for a new zoning district, envisions a casino resort featuring Vegas-style gambling, two hotels with 1,670 rooms, a spa, retail, restaurants, a conference center exceeding 200,000 square feet, and three parking garages. The proposal includes the incorporation of the Long Island Marriott's 15-acre site.

Christopher Murray, representing Hofstra University, raised concerns about the SEQRA process relying on outdated information. In November, a state Supreme Court judge nullified the county legislature's lease agreement approval, asserting the need for a prior environmental review. The county is appealing the decision.

We are not here as anti-union. We are not here as anti-development. We are here as anti-casino,” Garden City resident George Krug, was quoted as saying. “I loved everything I saw in the presentation — it looks like a beautiful place. But at the core there is a casino, there is no project without a casino.”

Garden City Mayor Mary Carter Flanagan expressed serious concerns about the project's scale and social and environmental impact, with the village board unanimously opposing it.

Grant Newburger of the Building and Construction Trades Council praised Sands' proposal. “A project of this scale has never been seen before on Long Island. I'd like to point out that five years ago you could not name a billion dollar project here on Long Island, but here it's the 4 or 5 billion number — it's unprecedented,” Newburger said, as per the report.