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The Best Gifts from Schoharie County

Showing posts with label Howe Caverns. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Howe Caverns. Show all posts

Poll: Howe Caverns Proposal Was Flawed

Written By Editor on 1/4/15 | 1/4/15

Schoharie News readers believe by a small margin that the proposal prepared by Howe Caverns for a casino project was heavily flawed.

Why Do You Think NYS Rejected the Howe Caverns Casino?

Politics as usual 36% - 106
Howe Caverns' proposal had major flaws 36% - 107
Schenectady had better proposal 8% - 23 
All of the above 18% - 53 
Other don't know 2% - 7 
292 total

Insiders: Howe Caverns Proposal Plagued by Missteps

Written By Editor on 12/19/14 | 12/19/14

Even before the December 17th decision to not accept the Howe Caverns Casino proposal, there have been rumblings about how the project was pieced together. By interviewing local officials, former Howe Caverns employees, and those involved in the push we have been able to piece together part of why the Howe Caverns project was not accepted.

The fight began unexpectedly. The Board of Supervisors rejected a motion to accept a local casino and most locals seemed against it. Just several days later a political earthquake hit the area, with the announcement that Howe Caverns would be pursuing the process. The County Board swiftly reversed itself under pressure from Cobleskill Stone Vice President and County Republican Vice Chair Chris Tague. With the Howe Caverns name attached to the project, the public also backed the project.

April and May seemed to pick up momentum for the project. Howe Caverns anted up $1 million for the gaming application, got our endorsement, said that it had an environmental study done early, and received the unanimous backing of the Cobleskill Town Board.

However, many of the early moves seemed to get the horse before the cart. The early enthusiasm seemed to get the public relation effort ahead of the actual bread and butter of the project's inner workings. According to the State Gaming Commission, the actual proposal to the state didn't indicate a solid plan for how the casino would be funded. Second, multiple surrounding municipalities were not asked for opinions on the casino. Beyond this, deeper structural problems affected the project.

First, the naming of the Howe Caverns Casino owner dropped the ball. The potential owner, Michael Malik, received as much criticism as he did attention. His past involvement in domestic abuse, a ponzi scheme, and election fraud drew attention away from the project itself.

Beyond this, Howe Caverns' own strategy was confusing. Its failure to open its announced Dinosaur Park and Waterpark seemed to underscore larger plans without the funding or the logistics behind to finish them. Furthermore, a recent drop in tourism and gutting of many employees highlighted an atmosphere of instability at the site. One former employee described the efforts as inexplicable.

Still, public support remained high. The project's backers seemed to switch their efforts from the gaming commission process to one of relying on public opinion. Howe Caverns would bus in supporters in t-shirts to every event, winning plaudits for effort. A powerful ad that some believed to be manipulative was launched.

This line of attack seemed to avoid questions about the project's profitability and feasibility. Concerns were regularly replaced with constant shouts of "IT'S OUR TIME," in person or on Facebook. Emails flew from at least one County agency supporting the project using a County email address. Furthermore, the project did not actually have the correct SEQR, as it was claimed earlier.

The project seemed to be relying on a local base of support. Cobleskill Stone Vice President Chris Tague became the public face of the project. He organized the moderately attended Fill the Hill event.

Tague's approach rallied the faithful but seemed heavy handed to some officials. Rather than reinforcing the underwriting or actuarial basis for a local casino, the emotion of Irene was used to support the project. Heavy backing from the County Planning Department and Alicia Terry seemed to indicate the casino's role as a potential savior of the local economy. A PR firm was hired and attention was paid to direct supporters to swamp news polls, but the underlying questions never seemed to receive answers.

By Wednesday the effort seemed to peter out. Sure, there were supporters in t-shirts at the Commission and scattered applause when Howe Caverns was mentioned in the opening statement, but the stone faced commissioners acted more like accountants than emotional cheerleaders for the project. At the end, one of the major concerns was that the Caverns did not complete a basic accounting for how the project would be funded. All of the other work hung on this major error.

Gaming Commission: Howe Caverns Rejected over Financing

Written By Editor on 12/17/14 | 12/17/14

More information is trickling out of the NYS Gaming Commission following its landmark decision to approve a casino project in Schenectady. The Commission released a statement regarding its recommendations, including the fact that the Rivers Casino project was selected unanimously over the Rennselaer and Schoharie projects.

The Commission released a brief statement regarding the two rejected Capital District casino proposals. It noted that the Rennselaer project had considerably less public support than the Schoharie and Schenectady projects.

However, the Commission was deeply concerned about the viability of the Howe Caverns project, considering that the applicant, "provided no commitment or highly confident letters for either its equity or debt financing." In fact, the Commission stated that, "Unlike all other Applicants, the sponsors of the Howe Caverns proposal stated that it could not propose a capital structure in any level of detail prior to receiving a gaming license." The Commission also noted that the Howe Caverns project was the only one in which the money needed to complete the process was unclear.

Caverns Casino Submits Executive Summary

Written By Editor on 7/16/14 | 7/16/14

The New York State Gaming Commission has released the executive summaries of seventeen casino proposals statewide that are vying for just four sites located in specific regions across Upstate New York. Five, including the Howe Caverns Resort and Casino bid, are competing in the Capital Region.

Claiming that, "there is no proposed Gaming Facility in the State that can be underway and built faster than ours," the Howe Caverns summary touts the site's strong community support, its already existing stature as a popular tourist destination, and its position away from other existing facilities, as reasons to be selected. 

Additionally, the executive summary contends that the Howe Caverns site would not just be a casino, but "a regional economic engine" that will create almost five thousand jobs between the construction and operating phases and that the gaming aspect alone would bring in over $131 million in the first year without factoring in other revenue sources. 

Still, it is only one bid out of five the New York State Gaming Commission has to choose from within this region, and besides the still unnamed Amsterdam site; the rest have viable odds of being selected to construct the Capital District's host casino and gaming facility, pending the commission's final decision. 

A full copy of the Howe Caverns Resort and Casino executive summary is available here

Howe Caverns Casino Owner: A Past of Child Abuse, Election Fraud, Ponzi Scheme Involvement

Written By Editor on 7/2/14 | 7/2/14

The Howe Caverns Resort and Casino announced earlier this week, to much fanfare and media coverage, its formal application filing to the New York State Gaming Commission for consideration of one of the four casino gaming licenses to be awarded this fall in Upstate, New York. 

Additionally, the proposed gaming facility announced that Michael J. Malik Sr. - a nationally known casino developer and founder of MJM Enterprises and Development - will serve as the project's owner and operator in conjunction with Full House Resorts, a development firm. 

However, upon extensive research of Mr. Malik's financial and political background, the Schoharie News has uncovered several disturbing items of note concerning the casino magnate's past dealings; many of which raise serious questions over how he was selected to head the casino project.

Among the more alarming discoveries: 
  • The Fifth Third Bank, a Michigan banking corporation, filed an official complaint against Mr. Malik on February 2nd, 2009 for allegedly failing to repay over $990,000 in monies the defendant borrowed through a line of credit in April of 2007. 
  • In April, 2009 the Securities and Exchange Commission reached a $170,000.00 settlement with Mr. Malik for his role participating in a $2.1 million 2006 Florida based ponzi scheme by John Upstick's Worldwide Entertainment, Inc.
  • California's Fair Political Practices Commission has fined Mr. Malik twice for a total of $10,500 for violating California's political reform laws. The casino magnate reportedly failed to report more than $50,000 in political contributions.
Mr. Malik was also found guilty of firing a weapon too close to occupied residences during a 2007 hunt in Arizona, and he has had thousands returned in political donations he made to New York State officials in the run up to a contentious casino bid on Long Island.

Perhaps worst of all, Malik was arrested and served a year of probation in 1997 for assaulting his then girlfriend's twelve year old son with a wooden hockey stick. According to The Detroit News, Mr. Malik chased the boy into the street outside the family's home and started beating the child. 

The Michigan Gaming Control Board was at the time investigating Malik and other investors in a local casino project to determine if they had the moral character and business deportment to hold a gaming license. Mr. Malik was later forced to sell his share of the project after the board ruled against him. 

With Howe Caverns $450 million proposal heading to the state for its final decision, it is not known how Mr. Malik's questionable past will affect the casino's odds before the state gaming commission, although it does raise doubts over the project's competency in selecting credible business partners. 

Howe Caverns Casino Submits Application, Announces Owner

Written By Editor on 6/30/14 | 6/30/14

Editor's Note: The Schoharie News was excluded from the casino's original press release blitz, but we were sent a copy of the news from another media outlet to ensure immediate, local coverage of the important announcement. Below is the original release.

Howes Cave, NY – The Howe Caverns Resort and Casino today submitted its formal application to the New York State Gaming Commission for consideration of one of the four casino gaming licenses to be awarded this fall.

The submission of the application makes it official that Howe Caverns Resort and Casino is in the running for a license in the Capital Region.

Howe Caverns Resort and Casino also announced its owner and operator of the proposed resort.

The owner and developer is Michael J. Malik.  Mr. Malik has successfully developed casinos all around the world.  He is a successful entrepreneur in the gaming, sporting and entertainment industries. He initiated his career as a consultant and developer in Indian gaming during the 1980’s.

Since 1988, Mr. Malik has been a pioneer in the casino development industry, including major projects in California, Michigan, and New York.

Outside of the gaming industry, Mr. Malik is the owner of MJM Enterprises and Development.  He is involved in a variety of development projects, including hunting and fishing preserves, financing touring entertainment acts and developing business expansion projects.

Mr. Malik has been a real estate developer and licensed broker for more than 25 years.  He has developed many commercial projects and specializes in resort development, industrial parks, retail shopping malls and urban development. 

“The first time I saw the site, I knew it was a winner,“ Malik said.  “I’ve developed many resort destinations before and this site has all the ingredients needed to be a successful destination resort,” Malik continued.

“I’ve enjoyed learning about Howe Caverns and the Schoharie Community.  I look forward to learning more as we build upon the existing successful tourist attraction, breath taking scenic views, and close proximity to major highway’s, to attract visitors for miles,” Malik concluded.

Howe Caverns Resort and Casino also announced the resort operator will be Full House Resorts, Inc.

Full House Resorts and its management team have a track record of success with gaming projects in Nevada, Michigan, Indiana, Delaware, Oregon, South Dakota, Atlantic City, Louisiana, New South Wales, and Australia.

Full House specializes in regional resorts and has enjoyed much success in developing casino projects similar to the proposed Howe Caverns Resort and Casino.

Full House Resorts is headquartered in Nevada.  One of their original founders is former Chrysler Chairman Lee Iacocca.

“We are pleased to join the team at Howe Caverns Resort and Casino to produce a top-notch resort and casino,” said Andre M. Hilliou, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Full House Resorts Inc.

“We look forward to working with Michael Malik, the team at Howe Caverns and the State Gaming Commission to develop a complex that has the potential to become one of New York’s premiere tourist destinations,” Hilliou continued.

Emil Galasso, owner of Howe Caverns said, “I am not only pleased that we were able to attract two of the best partners in the industry, but these are good people who will be a benefit to the entire Schoharie Community.”

“All along, I have held that we have the best site with the most potential to develop a successful resort and casino in the entire region, today, our chances got even better,” Galasso concluded.

The proposed resort includes a world class gaming facility with a 10-floor luxury hotel along with a contemporary waterpark and a second hotel.  The resort will include a number of dining opportunities including a fine dining restaurant.

The proposed project also includes the addition of a dinosaur theater as an added attraction at Howe Caverns.  The resort is anchored by the existing adventure attractions at the historic Howe Caverns.

The next phase will be to demonstrate to the New York State Casino Location Board that the Howe Caverns Resort and Casino is deserving of one of the four potential licenses.

With 330 acres of REAL shovel ready land that has a fully completed SEQRA study and on-site water and sewer capacity, the Howe Caverns Resort and Casino is well positioned to quickly develop from initial approval to grand opening.  

It is also the only site to include an existing tourist attraction.  Howe Caverns, the second oldest natural attraction in New York State, welcomes over 200,000 visitors each year.

Gaming, a waterpark, fine dining, and luxury accommodations will compliment the existing Howe Caverns adventure attractions drawing visitors from all across the U.S.

Most importantly, the proposed development also has the potential for the greatest positive impact on a community.  Suffering from a struggling economy, one of the highest unemployment rates in the state and continued recovery from devastating floods, Schoharie County stands to see a greater economic impact than any other potential location.

Built on a modern business model that relies on bringing new money into the region and state and not just recirculating existing dollars, the resort will grow Schoharie County tourism to the level of the Cooperstown/Otsego County area creating a regional tourism powerhouse that will benefit the entire State. 

Cobleskill Town Board Unanimously Backs Howe Caverns Casino

Written By Editor on 5/30/14 | 5/30/14

Cobleskill, NY - In a crystal clear and decisive statement of support, the Cobleskill Town Board unanimously passed a resolution backing a casino to be specifically sited at Howe Caverns.

“We are pleased to continue to show unprecedented community support for our project.  I would venture to say that we have the most community support of  any proposal in the region and possibly the State,” said Emil Galasso, President of Howe Caverns Development Corporation.

The specific resolution, undoubtedly favoring the Howe Caverns Casino, is one of the required steps in the process to be considered for selection by New York State.  The resolution also mentions several additional benefits and reasons for New York State to select the Howe Caverns site.

Calling Howe Caverns “a true destination” and “an important historic landmark,” the resolution states that the Town of Cobleskill Board believes that bringing a casino to Howe Caverns will be “economically transformational for a region that suffered Hurricanes Irene and Lee.”

The Howe Caverns Casino proposal is consistent with the Governor's stated goals to target areas in need and build destination resorts in communities that express local support.  I think it is becoming clearer each day that Howe Caverns is the best site with least obstacles for the quick, successful development of a casino,” Galasso said.

“We have a great location, we have ample space ready to built on, and we have overwhelming support.  Why would New York State choose another site, when the community here welcomes this development?” Galasso continued.

Howe Caverns has been in operation since 1842.  In 2007, businessmen Emil Galasso and Charles Wright purchased Howe Caverns and since that time, have updated the original facility and added outdoor attractions such as the Howe High Adventure Park. 

Howe Caverns sits on a beautiful mountainside with spectacular views overlooking the Helderberg Plateau.  It is located just off Interstate 88, about 30 minutes from Oneonta and Cooperstown to the west, and 30 minutes from Albany to the east and 2.5 hours from NYC. 

Howe Caverns Site Ahead of Curve on Environmental Study

Written By Editor on 5/3/14 | 5/3/14

Cobleskill, NY – During the mandatory meeting of the 22 interested parties looking to be approved to build one of four casinos in New York State, the repeated concern of the day was the ability to meet the requirements of the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQR). 

“It became clear at the meeting that several potential developers are concerned over meeting the requirements and doing so in a timely fashion.  Howe Caverns has already completed a SEQR review giving us a leg up as a true ready to build site for a casino,” Emil Galasso, President of Howe Caves Development Corporation, said.

A SEQR review requires the sponsoring or approving governmental body to identify and mitigate the significant environmental impacts of the activity it is proposing or permitting. This process can take upwards of 18 months.

This becomes of serious concerns to potential casino developers and operators as licensees can be fined for failing to open for gambling within two years of getting a license, and must declare any obstacles to completing the environmental review.

“Time and again, we have shown that Howe Caverns is one of the premier sites in New York to build a casino.  We have over 330 acres of true shovel ready land that can be built on immediately.  This includes the cumbersome and time consuming SEQR review.” Galasso said.

Our proposal is consistent with the Governor's stated goals to target areas in need and build destination resorts in communities that express local support.  I think it is becoming clearer each day that Howe Caverns is the best site with least obstacles for the quick, successful development of a casino,” Galasso continued.

Howe Caverns has been in operation since 1842.  In 2007, businessmen Emil Galasso and Charles Wright purchased Howe Caverns and since that time, have updated the original facility and added outdoor attractions such as the Howe High Adventure Park. 

Howe Caverns sits on a beautiful mountainside with spectacular views overlooking the Helderberg Plateau.  It is located just off Interstate 88, about 30 minutes from Oneonta and Cooperstown to the west, and 30 minutes from Albany to the east and 2.5 hours from NYC. 

Hosting Casino Would Bring Millions in State Aid, Funding to Schoharie County

Written By Editor on 4/28/14 | 4/28/14

The stakes just got that much higher. 

According to a document published on Schoharie County's official website, whether the Howe Caverns site is selected to host the Capital District's regional casino or not, local counties are in line to receive millions in school funding, property tax relief, and government aid.

However, the true jackpot is in hosting the gaming facility, where the home county is projected to receive over $11.4 million in additional revenue. To put that in perspective, that would be the equivalent of funding 15% of Schoharie County's 2014 $71.9 million public budget from just one source. 

As current calculations stand, Schoharie County would receive just under $1 million in funding regardless of where the casino is located, the smallest amount in the entire Capital District by half a million and barely one-sixth of Albany County's projected take home figures. 

Howe Caves Development Corporation recently anted up $1,000,000 in their own funds to move forward with the state application process, signaling the resolve of Schoharie County's local site to be fairly and seriously considered for the gaming facility. 

All eight counties will walk away from the process with something to show for, but only one will be able to cash in their chips because in poker, the house always wins. 

Howe Caverns Antes Up $1,000,000 Casino Application Fee

Written By Editor on 4/23/14 | 4/23/14

Cobleskill, NY – Howe Caves Develop Corporation, today, submitted the $1,000,000 application fee as the next step in a bid to secure a casino at its Schoharie County location.

Emil Galasso, President of Howe Caves Development Corporation, said he believes that at every step in the process Howe Caverns is showing to be a serious contender with the best site for a potential casino in this region.

“Today, we are sorting out - who is in and who is out. When the smoke clears we are confident that operators will recognize the tremendous potential of our shovel ready site - uniquely suited to be a destination location for families throughout the region.  Our proposal is consistent with the Governor's stated goals to target areas in need and build destination resorts in communities that express local support. It will be clear to operators that we are the only site that has all of these qualities in the Capital Region,” Galasso said.

“We have overwhelming public support, we have the support of our County Board and we have the support of key officials who have addressed safety and traffic concerns,” Galasso added.

43 million people live within 3-hours of the proposed site, with an already existing attendance of 150,000 people per year to Howe Caverns and 400,000 tourist to the region each year.

“With over 330 acres of shovel ready land, a new water and sewer project near completion, a connection of Interstate and State Highways, and the close proximity to several metropolitan areas, Howe Caverns is the perfect site for one of New York’s seven casinos,” Galasso said. 

“Howe Caverns is also the only site that offers a built in attraction with pre approved plans for future development such as a hotel and water park,” Galasso continued.

The pre approval includes completed traffic, geological and environmental studies allowing for immediate construction and development at the Howe Caverns site, the 2nd largest natural attraction in New York behind only Niagara Falls.

Galasso also referenced Governor Cuomo’s desire that casinos be sited in economically depressed areas to help spur economic development and create jobs.

Schoharie County has one of the highest unemployment rates in the state.  County residents have also been faced with the devastation from two recent flooding disasters stemming from Hurricanes Lee and Irene.  

“I believe when you look at all the factors put forth in the State’s application process, Howe Caverns more than meets the criteria and is located in a community deserving of the potential economic revitalization,” Galasso said.

Howe Caverns has been in operation since 1842.  In 2007, businessmen Emil Galasso and Charles Wright purchased Howe Caverns and since that time, have updated the original facility and added outdoor attractions such as the Howe High Adventure Park.  

Howe Caverns sits on a beautiful mountainside with spectacular views overlooking the Helderberg Plateau.  It is located just off Interstate 88, about 30 minutes from Oneonta and Cooperstown to the west, and 30 minutes from Albany to the east and 2.5 hours from NYC.  

Opinion: We Say Yes to the Howe Caverns Casino

Written By Editor on 4/17/14 | 4/17/14

After carefully considering the project, the Schoharie News has come to the same conclusion as most county residents: we need the Howe Caverns Casino proposal to succeed in order to stimulate economic growth and local employment in Schoharie County.

As editor of this publication, I will be the first to admit my personal vote against the statewide referendum last November on the question of whether New York State should permit the construction of gaming venues outside the Indian Reservations.

My reasoning was two-fold, as I hold strong moral objections to gambling in principle and I believed that we shouldn't compete against the interests of existing facilities, due to the unemployment disparities that already existed in those areas. 

However, after the announcement of Howe Caverns interest in hosting a potential casino and the debate that followed, it has become harder to oppose the concept when we have over one thousand residents jobless in the latest unemployment report with seemingly no viable options to reverse the county's long-term plunge into the economic abyss. 

Sure, there are lingering concerns over the societal and infrastructural impacts of having a casino located in Howes Cave, but local officials ranging from Sheriff Desmond to Public Works head Dan Crandell have publicly announced their support for the project, while discounting the arguments that directly target their areas of expertise. 

In the end, all we can do in Schoharie County is show New York State our support for building a casino in our community, and if we can help push the proposal get a little bit closer to that goal-line, we'll be in better shape for it. 

Sheriff Desmond Backs Howe Caverns Casino

Written By Editor on 4/1/14 | 4/1/14

Cobleskill, NY – Schoharie County Sheriff Tony Desmond on Monday afternoon announced his support for the proposed casino to be sited at Howe Caverns.

“I believe a casino in Schoharie County would have no real impact on our public safety,” Desmond said.

“In fact, I believe that providing more jobs and opportunity for our residents would deter crime that otherwise occur in a tough economy,” Desmond continued.

Desmond also stated that he would welcome working with casino management to help develop a comprehensive plan for the overall security at the casino, all its adjacent properties and the County as a whole.

“I would welcome a strong partnership with the casino management and security team to ensure a safe environment for residents and visitors to our County,” Desmond said.

Desmond, who also served as former Supervisor of the Town of Sharon, mentioned that a casino would also bring a much needed to boost to the local economy.

“I know that specifically in the Town of Sharon and the Village of Sharon Springs there are many good ideas and proposals for economic growth and this could help jumpstart those plans as well as others throughout the county,” Desmond said.

Additionally, Desmond referred to the effect flooding had on the area in 2011 and how creating a tourist destination could help rejuvenate the county.

“I saw first-hand the devastation caused by the flooding in Schoharie County.  It was not only devastation of property, but of morale and spirit as well. The plan to create a world class entertainment destination could be the turnaround that Schoharie County needs,” Desmond concluded.

In Reversal, Board Supports Local Casino

Written By Editor on 3/22/14 | 3/22/14

One week after representatives of Howe Caverns briefed local legislators, state officials, and others on their plans to compete for one of New York State's seven recently approved casinos, the Schoharie County Board of Supervisors reversed their close February decision against the concept of hosting one in county with a 13-3 vote in favor of the idea Friday morning. 

Cobleskill Stone General Manager Chris Tague spoke on behalf of Howe Caverns, telling board members that, "we're not solely here... to sell Howe Caverns, but to open up development of Schoharie County," many supervisors, however, questioned the resolution's original language that offered county support for a specific site. 

Among those questioning the original language were Supervisors Buzon, Milone, and Skowfoe, all of whom supported last month's casino resolution but felt it was inappropriate for the board to support one potential location over another, with Mr. Milone stating that he did not believe the county should, "be interested in earmarking for one specific entity."

After almost an hour of prolonged discussion, supervisors voted down the resolution in support of Howe Caverns' project and moved to reconsider last month's failed measure that simply expressed the county's willingness to New York State to host a casino in principle. In response, several lawmakers personally opposed to the concept proposed a public hearing be held on the matter to salve their uneasiness.

The result of which was a confusing trio of votes that saw the county board include a public hearing in the resolution, followed by a motion to set a public hearing for next month, and then finally they moved to take the public hearing out of the resolution altogether. The crowd of public officials and residents alike grew restless over this fifteen minute period of dysfunction. 

In the end, despite the confusion and different viewpoints, only three supervisors voted against Schoharie County hosting a casino for a second time: Barbic of Seward, Bradt of Carlisle, and Federice of Conesville. When asked why he opposed the resolution, Mr. Bradt said that he based his vote on his town's opposition to last year's statewide ballot referendum, and that he, "had to vote to represent the people of Carlisle."

A public hearing will be held next month on the matter.

Howe Caverns Casino? Owner Makes Pitch to Local Leaders

Written By Editor on 3/15/14 | 3/15/14

A casino might be coming to Schoharie County after all.

In a meeting between representatives of Howe Caves Development Corp., LLC and Senator James Seward, Assemblyman Pete Lopez, members of Congressman Chris Gibson's staff, as well as other local officials earlier this week, Cobleskill businessman Emil Galasso, who wasn't present at the meeting but whose daughter and staff was, announced Howe Caverns' interest in hosting one of the seven casinos approved in last year's statewide ballot measure on their sprawling property.

Howe Caverns
Mr. Galasso, who purchased the popular natural attraction in 2007 with businessman Charles Wright, touted the property's 330 acres of shovel ready development approved land in a press release filed Friday evening, in which he stated that after, "long consideration, he and members of his team have officially decided to pursue the process for the Howe Caverns property to be considered."

Adding that Schoharie County has suffered economically from the destruction wrought by Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee's effects in August 2011, Mr. Galasso believes the proposal could spur local job growth, infrastructure repairs, and restore economic value to the county and surrounding areas, if approved. 

Pubic sentiment, however, is mixed on the idea of welcoming a casino into the county. Local residents approved the statewide ballot measure by just two hundred votes last fall, while the Board of Supervisors voted down a resolution last month that would have signaled the county's willingness to host a gaming venue. In addition, 53% of Schoharie News readers opposed the idea in a recent survey

Thanking local leaders for attending the meeting, Mr. Galasso concluded that based on his forty-five years of experience as a businessman, he found that in comparison to other proposed sites that Howe Caverns had to, "make the most sense due to its location, economic activity, opportunity for business development and beauty of the Schoharie Valley."

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