New York lawmakers have introduced legislation that might clear the way for a New York casino at Citi Field, home of the New York Mets.
Authored by assemblyman Jeffrion Aubry, act A5688 would grant Mets owner Steve Cohen “at least twenty acres of land” to use as he pursues a downstate casino in Queens.
New York casino parkland trade-off
Although advocates have been skeptical of Aubry’s bill, A5688 does not grant Cohen land freely. At the bill’s core, New York state considered the parking lot at Citi Field to be parkland.
Thus, if Cohen were to free up parking lot space for a casino, the parkland must be transferred elsewhere. Speaking with the PIX-11, Aubry said the trade-off is something Cohen and New Green Willets, the company Cohen created to try and win approval for the casino, understand fully.
“I’m really pleased that they listened to a lot of things that the community wants,” Aubry said. However, a Senate version of Aubry’s bill must be introduced before anything else can move forward.
In a statement, Jessica Ramos, the state senator for the area of Queens, said:
“The process required to reassign the parkland requires a uniform bill in the Assembly and the Senate, so I was certainly surprised to see a bill introduced. My team and I are still reviewing the legislation, but it is clear that I need to have some more conversations with my colleagues to ensure that binding community input is prioritized in this process.”
Opposition to a casino in Queens continues to push back
Not everyone is on board with bringing a New York casino to Queens. Rebecca Pryor, the executive director of the Guardians of Flushing Bay, said she was skeptical about the proposed legislation.
“The fact that a neighborhood has to swallow a massive casino in order to get some basic park improvements is kind of appalling.”
Queen’s resident Stephanie Perez said she was still trying to figure out how a casino could benefit the neighborhood. “Queens is home to a lot of families. I’m a mom. I have a toddler. There’s a lot Citi Field does for kids. I’m not sure how a casino would intercede with that.”
However, nothing is set in stone. Should the bill pass, Cohen still has to go through the application process to obtain a downstate casino license.