The grounds of the Nassau Hub are only a short distance from East Meadow and Salisbury, and residents are not all in agreement when it comes to the idea of building a casino on the property surrounding the Nassau Coliseum.
After the Las Vegas Sands — a luxury casino and resort company — announced earlier this year that it would bid for the Uniondale property and build a casino, the idea has been met with mixed opinions.
Las Vegas Sands said it would invest upward of $4 billion to develop the 72 acres around the Coliseum, bringing new tax revenue and skilled jobs to the area. While a casino is part of the overall proposal, the developers say it’s just one piece of several, including shopping and entertainment.
“A big no to the casino,” East Meadow resident Cindy Rein posted on Facebook. “How about a place for families to go and walk around like a mini zoo/museum/amusement park that’s not costly. Something small scale for children. Lots of families moving here and not much for them to do. Especially cost-wise.”
She wrote that she’d rather see some suggestions that are geared “more towards children and families and not towards gamblers, drinkers, and trash.”
East Meadow resident Ronni Fauci, though, wrote that she is happy about the planned casino. “It will bring more jobs to the area,” she wrote, “as well as tax money.”
County Executive Bruce Blakeman has kept an open mind, outlining in his recent State of the County address his requirements for the new casino. It must be “world-class, with a luxury hotel and entertainment component.” It must bring “significant revenue,” to the county, and the areas around it must create permanent jobs.
Blakeman’s third requirement is the proposal must have the community’s backing before being approved.
The influence of a casino on crime has been generally inconclusive, according to numerous studies. A 1999 project from the National Gambling Impact Study Commission concluded communities with casinos are just as safe as communities without.
Despite that, some local residents have formed a group, Say No to the Casino Civic Association, calling on the county legislature — a necessary vote of approval to make such a project happen— to say “no.” On March 20, a group of protesters congregated at the Nassau County legislative building in Mineola to call on Blakeman and the County Legislature to put a stop to the plan.
“(The casino would be) better than what is in the area now,” East Meadow resident Kathleen Rhor wrote. “All solutions are always knocked down, so we will see how far this gets.”
The casino isn’t the first proposed plan for the area. In September 2004, then-owner of the New York Islanders Charles Wang proposed a project called the “Lighthouse Development.” It requested new zoning for a mixed-use 42-building community that would surround a renovated version of the Nassau Coliseum. Backlash caused him to make a scaled down version of what he really wanted to do.
Much like the Sands project, it would’ve included shops and entertainment, but Wang also had housing, a convention center, and a sports technology center in mind. The project was met with much disagreement, and was ultimately fizzled out.
In 2019, the Nassau Hub Conceptual Master Plan was drafted by developer Brooklyn Sports and Entertainment Global and RXR Realty. The plan was to create a space with an office building, residential buildings, retail space, restaurants, a hotel, a cinema and a research and development center, a performing arts center, and parking garages. It was approved by then-County Executive Laura Curran and was sent to Town Supervisor Don Clavin for approval.
The pandemic slowed plans down, and now they’re shifting.
“They are not just building a casino, they are building a lot of things for family entertainment,” Salisbury resident Joe Gargiulo wrote. “There is nothing in Nassau that families can do together. If they build family-oriented places and bring more revenue (to the county) maybe taxes will not be so high.”
A vote on the casino proposal by the County Legislature is expected at the end of April.