Citizen activist Joanne Gavin advises the Warren County Board of Supervisors Feb. 15 not to spend money on a study reviewing the impact of a casino in Lake George. Instead, she urged them to concentrate on other paths of economic development, like promoting upscale housing for high-tech professionals expected to work at GlobalFoundries in Malta within several years.
A study to weigh the impact of hosting a gambling casino in Lake George is a waste of money, a local citizen activist warned county leaders Feb. 15.
Joanne Gavin, a leader of the Lake George Citizens Group, voiced opposition to commissioning study of the potential benefits or harm of gambling in Lake George. The town is considered a prime candidate for a casino if voters approve a proposed state constitutional amendment on the issue.
She voiced her objection at monthly Board of Supervisors meeting.
“Residents of Lake George are opposed to a casino, but businesses who are going to make money with one in Lake George are going to push hard for this,” she said.
Not only do many citizens oppose the idea of a casino, but such a study would be a waste of taxpayer money, she said.
Gavin noted that a half-dozen or more communities similar to Lake George have spent up to $100,000 for such studies, and they all cite data, facts and opinions that directly apply here in Warren County.
She urged that county supervisors should — to inform themselves of gambling’s impact —obtain and read copies of studies that have been conducted by other municipalities in the northeastern U.S., including Newport, R.I.
In November, voters in that state approved allowing casinos, but voters in Newport defeated the proposal.
Lake George Mayor Robert Blais appeared before the Board of Supervisors in January, lobbying for the county to share the cost of such a study, which he estimated to range from $25,000 to $75,000.
Blais had said “the gambling train” was coming through Warren County, and the supervisors could “sit and watch it go by,” or take action to consider its impact.
Friday, Gavin voiced a response to Blais’ plea.
“Let’s let the casino train go right through town,” she said.
County and local municipal officials have recently renewed discussion studying the regional impact of casino gambling, following Gov. Cuomo’s speech last month suggesting that three destination casinos could be located upstate.
Proponents of siting a casino in Lake George have mentioned a price tag of about $1 billion for developing a full-fledged destination attraction that would provide jobs and economic expansion. Opponents of the concept have warned of the negative consequences of a gambling casino on family life, area crime, traffic, social services and infrastructure.
Gavin told the supervisors that instead of pursuing gambling casinos, county leaders should be encouraging other avenues of economic development, including promoting residential growth and enhancing mass transit — both in the light of the pending expansion of GlobalFoundries computer chip campus in Malta, with 1,000 more high-paying jobs envisioned. The new plant, expected to produce semiconductor chips for the booming market for mobile electronic devices, is anticipated to prompt a considerable demand for upscale housing in a region that includes Warren County.
Gavin noted that GlobalFoundries’ Malta chip plant has been named as a possible site for the production of semiconductors used in Apple Computer’s products.
Area economic officials have speculated that whether the chips are for Apple or another mobile device manufacturer, dozens of other high-technology firms could be drawn to the area, creating many more jobs and an even greater demand for housing.
She noted that employees at the computer firms would be attracted to live in Warren County and in the town of Lake George due to the area’s natural beauty, and amenities such as the new Charles Wood Park, rather than a casino.
“Let’s concentrate on what means most to us in the Adirondacks,” she said.
Gavin, one of the founders of the Lake George Citizens Group, was pivotal in the 2011 defeat of three Lake George Town Board members — Republicans who were replaced by three candidates affiliated with her organization.