As the big debut of the city’s first casino rounds the corner, several dozens of nearby homeowners voiced their concerns at the Ozone Park Civic Association’s monthly meeting.
The civic group and more than 50 locals welcomed guest speaker Patrick Jenkins, a representative of Resorts World New York City, on Tuesday, October 18. Jenkins is also the main liaison between the company and the surrounding community.
“It’s been a long year, but it’s been a good year. The first thing I want to do is say thank you to the people who live in the shadow of Aqueduct,” Jenkins said. “You’re right next door, in the backyard and it’s been a great experience working with the community and leaders. We look forward to being a great neighbor.”
The majority of complaints residents made were about parking problems once the Racino opens. Several residents expressed concerns that the neighborhood would turn into a “parking deluxe” for gamers looking to park on residential blocks to save a few bucks — especially after hearing news from Jenkins that there would be a charge for parking.
The amount to be charged is not yet determined, but Jenkins said the “nominal fee” would primarily prevent people from using the parking lot to take the train. He also said — but could not verify yet — that the company may reimburse parkers with player’s cards to be redeemed inside.
“We know this is New York City. People will do whatever to save on a parking fee,” said Betty Braton, chair of Community Board 10. “We’re not going to see the full effects for a while. Let’s see what the patterns are going to be, then we’ll know exactly what we have to address. As problems develop, we will work on them. Just like when a new grocery store opens, we’re going to see the worst of traffic and parking problems.”
Although Jenkins said Resorts World hired 1,150 people since June, several residents complained that after being interviewed several times for jobs, they did not hear back from the company. Some accused Resorts World of not hiring from within the community as was promised.
“I’ve been here since last August and from day one, it’s been stressed by the company that we would hire from within the community,” Jenkins said. “That’s been reiterated and pounded home by every civic leader that we’ve spoken to. It’s something we talk about on a consistent basis, and the company is committed to that. I don’t know the exact statistics, but I do know that a lot of people from the area were hired.”
Jenkins said the company has received more than 40,000 job applications since June. He said they were still in the “arduous” hiring process of going through thousands of applications and said they were “no where near finished.”
The first phase of the Racino will open on October 28. Civic leaders said Jenkins and Resorts World representatives were “extremely responsive and aware” of the community’s concerns.
“This company has got to be one of the best that we’ve worked with. It has been a pleasure working with people who are actually concerned about the community,” Braton said. “Good things come to those who wait. It’s going to be a beautiful addition to our community.”