Between the local candidates for a casino in the Southern Tier, the choice is obvious. Tioga Downs is well situated as a “Gateway to the Finger Lakes,” making it a magnet for travelers wishing to explore New York.
It has plenty of space to expand and the singular benefit of being an active horse track. Owner Jeff Gural has proven to be a compassionate neighbor, greatly helping residents in the aftermath of the recent flood(s). Despite the study commissioned by the Walsh family, the area cannot reasonably expect sufficient support for two casinos.
Broome County is currently anticipating additional development in more than one area. Notably, 800 beds on the Vestal Parkway and a SUNY pharmacy school in Johnson City will enhance the Counties’ economic development. Both will require more paving in the flood plain. What will this do to the municipalities downstream? What would be the result of additional paving of the landlocked Heritage Country Club? Is there room for retention ponds? Are they in the plan?
The remark quoted in The Press when Vista Group announced their decision to forego an application, the casino should come to Broome because it “would put Binghamton on the map,” exhibits the type of parochial thinking that caused Broome, Tompkins, and Chemung Counties each to build airports against the advise of the planning professionals in the nineteen fifties.
For sixty years this wrong-headed decision has subjected the residents of the Southern Tier to substandard service, requiring constant subsidization, and has done who knows how much damage to our potential for growth.
We are all better off when the region is considered as a whole. Unnecessary additional paving upstream, and shortsighted desires for development for selfish reasons have impeded our progress in the past; if the decision makers in this instance are truly impartial and look widely at the evidence, we will not make the same mistake again.
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