Schoharie County Sheriff Tony Desmond today threw his support behind the casino proposed for the Howe Caverns tourist attraction off Interstate 88, contending it would bring jobs, not crime.
“I believe a casino in Schoharie County would have no real impact on our public safety,” Desmond said in a statement.
Howe Caverns is owned by Emil Galasso, the chief executive of Cobleskill Stone Co., who has been reaching out to casino operators in an effort to generate interest in the proposal.
The site is one of several potential contenders for the one lucrative casino license that the state is expected to issue for the Capital Region. Other contenders include sites in Albany, Montgomery and Saratoga Springs.
The last proposal is opposed by Saratoga Springs city officials as well as a citizens group, SAVE Saratoga, which has pointed out the intent of the state legislation authorizing as many as four casinos in upstate New York was to spur economic development in depressed areas. Studies have shown that Saratoga has enjoyed more growth in recent years than any other part of the Capital Region, according to the group, which argues that to place a casino there would fly in the face of the legislative goal.
The Howe Cavern proposal is also supported by the Schoharie County Board of Supervisors.
Desmond said he sees no negative public safety impacts from a local casino. “In fact, I believe that providing more jobs and opportunity for our residents would deter crime that otherwise occur in a tough economy,” he said.
The sheriff said he would work with casino management to frame a plan for overall security at the site and its adjacent properties.
“I would welcome a strong partnership with the casino management and security team to ensure a safe environment for residents and visitors to our County,” he said.
Desmond said a casino would help struggling county bounce back after many homes were damaged by the flooding of 2011.
“I saw first-hand the devastation caused by the flooding in Schoharie County. It was not only devastation of property, but of morale and spirit as well. The plan to create a world class entertainment destination could be the turnaround that Schoharie County needs,” the sheriff said.