Mouth That Roars

Bill Liblick has made a name for himself of National TV Talk Shows where he spouted his outspoken views from the front row. Now he offers you his opinion every week in the "MOUTH THAT ROARS" Column in the Sullivan County Post.

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February 13th, 2014

Casino Excitement Begins

With the timeline for resort destinations taking shape as the RFP process begins within the next few weeks, developers are coming out of the woodwork with their proposals for our region which is expected to get approval for two.

As it stands now – there appears to be eight proposals on the horizon, but that could grow or trickle down to a mere few with who actually applies because of the nonrefundable application fee and funds needed to construct such a project.

 Under the timeline – Applicants can respond to the RFP from March to June 2014 with decisions expected in time for November’s gubernatorial election, and construction beginning immediately thereafter.

Governor Andrew Cuomo wants to see a facility open as early as 2015 and that could happen if construction crews work around the clock or if existing Racino facilities get the first crack.

Those expressing a desire to operate a resort destination so far include:

1. Empire Resorts along with their partner EPR Properties. EPR has already received IDA abatements to construct a new racetrack, racino, convention center, hotel, waterpark and other amenities on part of the Concord property that includes the world renowned Monster Golf Course. They claim they will build no matter what, but it still remains to be seen if they will, or if Empire Resorts will want to remain at their existing location that was once approved for a Mohawk Indian run resort.

2. Muss Development with their partner Foxwoods wants to build a $400 million Foxwoods Catskills Resort.  Over 300 hundred people packed the Liberty High School Monday night to hear their impressive proposal at the former Grossinger’s. Foxwoods operates the largest resort destination in the world and plans to develop along with Muss 1,200 acres of land that will include a sports complex, equestrian center, a spa, golf course, entertainment venue, restaurants, convention center, marina, and a 400-room hotel. They want to partner with local venues such as Bethel Woods to assist with economic development throughout Sullivan County.

3. Developer Louis Cappelli and their partner Mohegan Sun at the site of the former Concord Hotel. Cappelli has long tried to bring a facility to Sullivan County with one failed attempt after another. They are expected to announce their plans shortly.

4. Michael Treanor of Claremont Partners wants to turn the former Nevele Resort in Ulster County into a resort destination. One hurdle they may face is that the facility is several miles off the highway. 

5. Developer Robert Berman, who made millions when he controlled Monticello Raceway and its racino, wants to develop property he owns off exit 109. His plan is expected to be made public shortly.

6. Rochester Developer David Flaum wants to turn his Shawanga Lodge property in Mamakating into a facility. The Town Board gave him approval last week to move forward with his plans but that came along with many environmental concerns and restrictions. Flaum also plans to develop an Indian run facility in upstate New York with the Senecas, and the Seneca’s still own land near exit 107. Flaum has failed for years to enter the Catskill market, is considered very frugal, and not the most trustworthy.

7. Asian developers behind a massive project called China City between Thompson and Mamakating encompasses multi-use commercial, residential, business, education, amusement and entertainment components. This proposal might be dead in the tracks because of a halt initiated by the Thompson Board in what might be a “Green Card” scheme. 

8. The Stockbridge Munsees have attempted to open Native American run destination resort here for years, and they are not giving up in their plans. In fact, the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) just published their Environmental Impact Statement. Cuomo would need to approve such a resort as land would be taken into trust. The tribe already has a $15 million a year impact agreement with Sullivan County, plus millions in revenue for New York State. Whether it is Indian (land into trust) or legalized, no one should rule the Stockbridge Munsees out. They are partnered with the original developers of Mohegan Sun and invested millions in their plans. It would be nice if their land into trust plans are approved – opening up the market here for yet another destination resort.

All of the proposals would need approval from Sullivan County and local host municipalities, but no one knows exactly what that is yet.

Without informing all of his fellow legislators, Scott Samuelson, chairman of the Sullivan County legislature has been holding closed door meetings with a group he put together to discuss proposed resort destinations and their impacts. Although such a committee has merit, the way he is doing it is wrong. All of our legislators must be included.

Legislator Alan Sorensen upon learning of these meetings has called on the legislature to revive their Casino Committee and be prepared with input as New York State will require of them. Sorensen is on target. This is no time for closed door meetings.

Somewhat disturbing is a published comment coming from legislator Kathleen LaBuda on legislature input on resort destinations, she said that “My vote would be for Empire Resorts because I think they have the backing and meet the criteria.” 

LaBuda must understand that as New York State’s RFP process begins there should be no frontrunners and all proposals must be treated equal. The slate must be wiped clean.

Unlike Indian run destination resorts where Sullivan County would have received $15 million as the host community plus additional revenue, under this plan, all counties in a region will receive a set percentage of the revenue plus monies towards education. In addition, if we are the host community, Sullivan County and its local governments could get as much as $13.7 million per facility.

Legislator Cindy Gieger wants to see that some of the monies received from resort destinations go towards projects such as building a new jail.

Gieger attempted to introduce a resolution in January that called for “a designated fund be set aside from the projected New York State host county revenue adequate to cover debt service for the construction of an new jail,” but Samuelson tabled it without discussion.

Along with the jail, 911 radio bond, and $9.5 million Capital Bond, Sullivan County needs revenue and Gieger is making a point that the legislature needs to be looking ahead to earmark a percentage of revenue from resort destinations to offset debt service. She must be heard and not silenced.

Legislator Cora Edwards wants Sullivan County to become a hub to prepare the workforce that will be needed for destination resorts throughout New York State.

Edwards who sits on the Mid-Hudson Regional Economic Council representing Sullivan County says she wants to see Sullivan County Community College emerge as a leader in teaching hospitality management and Sullivan County BOCES prepare to offer classes in dealer training and management.

After some resistance, I understand both institutions are moving forward with Edwards’ suggestion.

The time is now for all of us to put our best face forward. This is the opportunity of a life time for Sullivan County and we must all be on the same page.

We must all work with and support these developers in their quests – While guaranteeing that Sullivan County gets the best out of each deal.

 We need to ensure that two resort destinations are approved for Sullivan County.

To view the Foxwoods proposal –

To view the Empire Resorts/EPR proposal –


Bill Liblick has made a name for himself on National TV Talk Shows where he spouted his outspoken views from the front row. Now he offers you his opinion every week in the “MOUTH THAT ROARS” Column in THE SULLIVAN COUNTY POST.

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