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Albany Common Council questions E23 developers

ALBANY -- Developers of the Exit 23 casino plan answered questions from the common councils committee of the whole Wednesday evening. Councilmembers made it clear unlike some communities that have already passed broad resolutions supporting casinos they need specific information before voting.

We dont want to be that generic in terms of a resolution that goes forward because there has to be conditions under which the city will accept a casino coming in here. We cant just give away the store and say come on in and there being no benefit to the city other than the taxes, said Council President Carolyn McLaughlin.

The operator of the casino remains a mystery. Developers said they signed a non-disclosure agreement and cannot release the operators identity until the operator decides. Mayor Kathy Sheehan and the council said they want the operator to be part of the discussion.

Representatives of the developer said negotiations will be limited as it focuses on a lengthy and detailed state application due June 30. They estimate the cost for the studies and other questions on the application at $5 million.

We [will] get as much info as we can as quickly as we can and we're hoping if they don't have all the information they need that maybe they do some kind of resolution that has broader strokes, but has contingencies. We support this, but we want specificity in the near future, said John Signor with Capital OTB.

The developers are hoping the council approves a resolution by May 5, but they may only have a draft ready by that date. The councils next opportunity to pass the resolution of support would be May 19.

Members of the public were given a chance to address the committee following the Q&A period. Some want all cities in the region to reject casinos.

What we'd like to see happen is no communities in Region 2 to pass a resolution like that and it would be very interesting to see what happens, said Stephen Hayford, Chair of No Casinos in the Capital District. Were not sure [what would happen], but it'd be very interesting to find out.