Trades Council Leader Slams Hofstra Over Long Island Casino Stance

Posted on: December 5, 2023, 04:03h. 

Last updated on: December 9, 2023, 01:02h.

The leader of the Building and Construction Trades Council of Nassau & Suffolk Counties blasted Hofstra University over its legal wranglings aimed at thwarting Las Vegas Sands’ efforts to bring a casino hotel to the site of the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale, NY.

Matthew Aracich
Building and Construction Trades Council of Nassau & Suffolk Counties President Matthew Aracich in an interview. He said Hofstra’s efforts to prevent a Long Island casino goes against the community’s will. (Image: YouTube)

In an op-ed published by Newsday, Matthew Aracich, president of the council, said Hofstra’s claims that public comment on the casino issue was stifled and related dealings were conducted in backroom fashion, “weak and incredulous.”

Last month, New York State Supreme Court justice Sarika Kapoor ruled that Nassau County’s transfer of the lease on the Coliseum to Sands violated New York’s open meeting laws. Days later, the appellate division of the New York State Supreme Court put a hold on that ruling. Aracich noted that Hofstra representatives were present at many of the meetings at which locals made their voices heard on the casino resort issue.

Contrary to the case presented, Hofstra’s active presence at these meetings speaks volumes. Members of its administrative team were not merely observers; they actively engaged in the hearings and lobbied legislators in private meetings at the same time,” he wrote.

The Building and Construction Trades Council of Nassau & Suffolk Counties represents 65K tradeswomen and tradesmen in Long Island.

Aracich Hits Hofstra on Environmental Review for Long Island Casino

Large-scale projects like new gaming venue developments require comprehensive environmental reviews. In its legal arguments, Hofstra asserted that the process was somehow skirted by Nassau County.

As Aracich pointed out, the county doesn’t have purview over the environmental review. The town of Hempstead does, and the college’s legal posturing hampered its progress. The trades council boss said the university knows as much, and its behavior indicates a “blatant disregard for transparency and public interest.”

Some legal experts believe that the outcome Hofstra is angling for is to send Nassau County and Sands back to square one or to engage the county in a protracted legal battle. Both options could be dangerous to the hopes of a Long Island casino, as it’s taking the state of New York years to hear environmental law cases. That’s the time Nassau County and Sands don’t have because state regulators may award the three downstate casino permits next year.

Sands, the largest casino operator by market value, previously said the legal maneuvering won’t affect its bid and plans in Long Island.

“Sands represents an engine of transformative growth for our region, a need that resonates across both counties. This project offers an opportunity to partner with a world-class company eager to hire and train the Long Island workforce,” added Aracich in the Newsday piece.

Aracich Promises Community Will Fight Hofstra

Aracich concluded that if Hofstra successfully forces Nassau County and Sands to start the process anew, the college will feel the weight of locals who want to see the project come to life.

The trades boss promised that if Hofstra is victorious, more casino supporters will emerge and crowd legislative buildings in Nassau County to voice their endorsements of the casino venture.

“Long Islanders continue to demonstrate an unwavering belief in this project that eclipses Hofstra’s narrow, out-of-touch agenda,” he concluded. “It’s time to reclaim the narrative, ensuring that our strong and diverse communities triumph over these self-serving maneuvers and steer Long Island toward a future built on shared prosperity and collective growth.”