After a lengthy and heated public meeting, the Nassau County Legislature voted to approve a 99-year lease with Las Vegas Sands for the land around the Nassau Hub on Monday.
Meanwhile, Steve Cohen’s push for a potential casino near Citi Field hit a major roadblock when state Sen. Jessica Ramos told the NY Post this past weekend that she does not plan to call forward a necessary piece of legislation to designate some of the state-owned land as commercial.
“I had a very productive town hall on Friday which is going to be the first of many conversations I have with my neighbors. My neighbors and I are not currently in a place where it would be appropriate to introduce parkland alienation legislation,” Ramos said to the Post.
The bill, A5688, passed the Assembly in March but has yet to move much in the Senate. A spokesperson for Cohen told the Post they are keen to incorporate Ramos’s feedback and continue to listen to the community. The last day of the New York legislative session is on June 4. If the bill does not pass, the land will not be cleared for Cohen to potentially develop a casino this year.
Elsewhere, the Nassau Hub casino project continued to draw some of the harshest critics in the state, as the property is situated adjacent to several schools, including Hofstra University, which has been particularly vocal in its opposition to the Sands project.
A common complaint at the public meeting on Monday was also that county officials failed to abide by New York public meeting laws, something Hofstra has taken to court. Many opponents asked the council to wait until that case was heard in a couple of weeks before voting on the matter, but the request fell on deaf ears, as the legislature approved the project with near-unanimous support.
“I entreat you to reject this proposal or any alternative to postpone your decision until a properly noticed and comprehensive public hearing can be held by on this proposed lease by the planning commission. To date, the planning commission has not held the statutorily required public meeting to consider the proposed lease and in fact, has held no public hearing on this matter since the date the proposed lease was negotiated. These procedural steps are there for a reason. And for an issue is complex, as crucial, and as impactful as the one that is before you, you should require the process to be followed by the county agencies and postpone your vote until that occurs,” Hofstra legal counsel Jessica Mone said at the meeting.
An intriguing element of the 99-year lease agreement is that should Sands not be selected for a casino license by the state, they would retain the lease and the right to develop the area into something else.
As these projects move forward, potential casino licensees are still awaiting answers from the first round of questions submitted about the RFP process. In March, the Gaming Facility Location Board said they had received hundreds of questions and were working their way through providing answers.