Amsterdam throws its support behind Schenectady casino plan

SCHENECTADY — The sound of machines and big rigs could be heard digging up the foundations of the old American Locomotive Co. site on Erie Boulevard in Schenectady on Wednesday. The site didn’t look inviting. But developers believe it’s one step closer to a major transformation.

Rotterdam based developer the Galesi Group gave Newschannel 13 a quick tour of the work in progress, just one day after the Amsterdam city council voted unanimously to support their bid for a casino to be located at that property. The project would also include residential and shopping area. Amsterdam officials are supporting the proposal after the gaming commission disqualified their bid for a casino last month.

“Amsterdam and Schenectady are very similar in cities. They’re urban areas that have high pockets of unemployment,” said Galesi Group Chief Operating Officer David Buicko.

Buicko said the governor’s Upstate New York Gaming Economic Development Act was meant to help communities like Schenectady and Amsterdam that have fallen onto hard times after manufacturing jobs left.

“If you look at the poverty levels in both Schenectady and Amsterdam. If you look at the amount of kids eligible for free lunch, if you look at the median income. If you characterize that across all the applicants, our numbers are very low,” Buicko said.

That’s why Buicko said with the two cities combining forces, it makes a lot of sense. The project would provide 1,200 jobs, lower taxes and increase school aid.

Three other sites are still in the running for a Capital Region Casino. Rensselaer, East Greenbush, and How Caverns in Schoharie County are all vying for the economic boost.

A decision is expected this fall.

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