The long held dream of southern Ulsterites, that a full fledged gambling casino at the Nevele in Ellenville — a dream that has, almost cruelly, been yanked from under their noses numerous time through decades, sort of like Charlie Brown trying to kick the football — has reared itself again, the temptress once more rising from the fertile fields of promised revenue, jobs and community revitalization.
Michael Treanor, the new owner of the old Nevele Resort, hoping to revive the shuttered Ellenville-area destination as a casino, told a packed Ulster County Chamber of Commerce on December 18 that as far as he’s concerned, the odds that New York State will approve gambling in the coming years are now “well above 50 percent.”
“It is going to happen and the Catskill Region is one of the targeted regions…The issue isn’t, is gaming coming to the Catskills. The issue is, where is it coming?” he said.
Later, Treanor spoke about how the economic damage wrought by Hurricane Sandy has increased the odds for downstate approvals of casino gambling, both in the state Senate and with the voting public via referendum.
He talked about discussions he’d been having in recent weeks with Albany officials that indicated the state will end up allowing two casinos apiece for New York City and the Catskills, with the former Monticello Raceway likely to get one of the latter slots out of seven possible for the entire state. But he added that the initial bills to be drafted by the legislature, with Governor Andrew Cuomo’s help, would likely not include any mention of place, the better to allow them passage.
On Wednesday, December 19, it was reported in the Albany Times Union that Cuomo said the same thing in discussions on Tuesday.
On the other side of the coin, Treanor acknowledged that his deal for the old hotel/resort is contingent on winning the casino sweepstakes. If not, he said, the keys go back to the mortgage holder.
$100,000 per month on PR
Treanor used his presentation to point out the economic benefits of his Nevele plans, from thousands of jobs, directly and indirectly, and a major influx of outside money into the county on a regular basis. He says he’s sewn up unanimous support to date from local politicians in the Ellenville/Wawarsing area, as well as from county legislators, along with backing from a variety of regional business associations. Ulster County Comptroller Elliott Auerbach, former mayor and manager of the Village of Ellenville, spoke on behalf of Treanor’s character. “We vetted him already,” said Auerbach.
Treanor said he’s hired Albany lobbyists to work over state legislators and the governor, and is upgrading a $100,000 a month public relations campaign by opening a new Ellenville office and model hotel room for the new yet historic hotel in the coming month.
Treanor also pointed out how he was seeking LEED certification for his 452-room family-friendly resort, to be built in stages including a large temporary structure to go up as soon as gaming and he get state approvals, the better to provide the state with the revenue stream it wants, and added that he was in discussions with SUNY-Ulster and SUNY-New Paltz about setting up training courses for casino jobs in the coming years.
Treanor, who has developed casinos in Las Vegas, Florida and Taiwan, stressed several times that business leaders need to be behind his plan for it to succeed with Albany politicians, his first hurdle towards the okays he needs to move ahead. And he added, several times, how he’d simply walk away from the deal if casino gambling is not approved on a statewide basis.
“I’m here to ask for your support,” he said. “I need people to be vocal. I need people to say, ‘We have to have this. We need this.’ Otherwise, I’m not going to get it and the county’s not going to get it.”
The fully refurbished Nevele Resort, Casino and Spa would be completed in 2019 and feature a 150,000-square-foot gambling casino, a championship golf course, winter skiing and ice-skating, indoor and outdoor water parks, and other family-geared recreation.
Concurrent with his presentation, the old Homowack Lodge in Mamakating was taking bids on the auction block with United Country Absolute Auctions & Realty as “an unprecedented opportunity” for an “imaginative developer, operator or speculator” interested in possible gaming “2.5 miles closer to NYC than the Nevele.” A closing must be completed by Feb. 15. As of press time, calls to the auctioneers regarding results went unanswered.