Willets Point casino bad for business and kids, says community group

February 07, 2013 09:30AM

A new community group in Willets Point, Queens is protesting plans to build a gambling site in the area, despite developers’ insistence that a casino is not in the cards, the New York Daily News reported.

Don’t Gamble on our Community, a coalition of politicians, businesspeople and local officials intend to collect 25,000 signatures in protest against a development they say would hurt local businesses and be detrimental to the neighborhood’s social fabric. “This is true grassroots,” the group’s founder, Michael Olmeda, said, addressing the crowd at a senior center in Corona. “We don’t want it here.”

Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz’s Sterling Equities initially had a proposal for a casino complex with a 500-room hotel and 1.8 million square feet of retail. However, city officials killed the casino portion for Willets Point on the grounds that the approval process would take too long.

Developers are insisting that the casino is now completely off the table. “Our plans for Willets Point DO NOT include an Indian or commercial casino, which is illegal,” a spokesman for the developers said in a statement. “Even if it were legal, it would not be allowed under the environmental process we are undertaking and our agreement with the City prohibits this use.” [NYDN]  – Hiten Samtani