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Queens Chronicle

No Willets Point casino

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Posted: Thursday, February 28, 2013 10:30 am | Updated: 10:52 am, Thu Feb 28, 2013.

Dear Editor:

There’ve been rumblings and rumors about a casino in Willets Point and I ask, why do we need something so destructive in our community?

Casinos are notorious for destroying communities that are already teetering on the brink. Willets Point has the potential to be great if only we are given a fighting chance.

The current proposal to revive Willets Point is something the entire community has gotten behind. We have given up so much to get to this point that adding a casino will set us back. When we should be talking about jobs, economic development, improving the pockmarked streets and other infrastructure, we are discussing further obliteration.

Even elected officials who represent Willets Point and the surrounding communities have spoken out against what would be a doomed casino project. Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras, whose district encompasses Willets Point, stated that “it is unprecedented to convert part of an existing economic development project that provides affordable housing and retail jobs for the purpose of building a casino, which would obviously affect the social fabric of the community.”

Andrew Rocco, president of the College Point Civic Association, said our government should focus on investing in the things we already have instead of creating and investing in the gambling industry. To echo Mr. Rocco’s words, I say we need sound investment in the people and cultural institutions that surround Willets Point.

A casino would not add to revitalization. All it would mean is a loss of jobs and closing of area businesses. Not many can withstand the onslaught of a casino. There will be no infusion of tourism dollars to the neighborhood. Patrons of the casino will undoubtedly spend both their money and time inside it.

The current Willets Point Plan, which will be a great improvement to the community, is something that has been vetted and approved. Adding a casino was never part of the original plan. I speak for many who would’ve never have supported the restructuring if we’d known that a casino could be part of the package. Instituting something of that magnitude without our consent is not only unfair, but disrespectful. Do we not get a say in what happens in or to our community? Are we that irrelevant?

We ask our legislators to not destroy what we are trying to build up. Give us the respect that you demand, for our community.

Edwin Salas
Statewide Association of Minority Businesses

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