Henrietta residents react to idea of casino in their town

Posted at: 08/20/2013 11:18 PM
Updated at: 08/21/2013 2:39 AM
By: Lynette Adams

We're hearing reaction from Henrietta officials and people who live there, after the Seneca nation of Indians announces its working to bring gaming to the town.

It could mean a full casino, or a smaller specialized gaming center.

The Seneca Nation says it's working with a local developer, to explore ideas on what kind of gaming center would work best in Henrietta and where to build it.

A spokeswoman for the nation says this is all still in the planning stages. But town officials tell us they were surprised to hear about this.

The big question is, would town leaders and residents welcome a casino in Henrietta?

News10NBC learned the town has no say in the decision. This is a deal that may already have state approval. The National Indian Gaming Commission may have to decide if Henrietta is suitable.

Rochester Mayor Tom Richards released a statement about the casino plan. He says he is open to discussion when it comes to putting a casino in the city of Rochester. He says: "Whether located in the city or elsewhere in the county, any casino would place demands on infrastructure and public safety that would need to be accounted for."

Deputy Town Supervisor, Bill Mulligan Jr., says he heard the announcement from a colleague, who'd heard it on the news.

“We really have very little in the way of details. We don't know where they're talking about doing it.”

Mulligan says there has been no communication with town leaders about this plan, but says, he is open to the idea.

“I don't know what the quality of the jobs, but I think I would have an open mind on the hope that it would be job creation. That really is the number one thing,” said Mulligan.

He says he did some research and talked with town attorneys and says there will be no direct tax benefit, since the land would go into a federal trust. He says a payment in lieu of taxes or pilot agreement, could be worked out that would bring the town some money, and potentially, some improvements like new roads and sewers near the gaming center.

News10NBC wanted to know what Henrietta residents and others think.

Peter Lancy lives in Henrietta, and supports job growth. But Lancy worries the center would bring more crime.

“As far as what I’ve seen in other cities, the downsides of it, just what it does to the neighborhood and some of the detraction from that probably what makes me not an advocate for it.”

Resident Pat Tomkinson, who's lived in Henrietta since 1960, thinks the same thing.

“I wouldn't mind if they had one more in a rural area where it wouldn't affect a town, but I don't want one in my town.”

Mary Ellen Young, a friend visiting Tomkinson, lives in a community with a casino. She says the biggest benefit, is hundreds of jobs.

“I haven’t' really seen the disadvantage.”

Michael Tomkinson, Pat’s son agrees.

“This will also benefit the community by giving us a wider range of entertainment and gambling. I'm Not against it. I Think people have a right to gamble. We have the lottery tickets.”

Mulligan says the town hopes to get more details tomorrow. He says Supervisor, Mike Yudelson plans to reach out to the developer.