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Casino Not a Sterling Idea

Date : Wed, 6 Aug 2014 10:20:50 -0400

For Immediate Release

July 31, 2014

Contact Jeff Tittel, 609-558-9100

Casino Not a Sterling Idea

One of the largest environmental victories that protected New Jersey's drinking water was the 20 year battle to save Sterling Forest. There was a proposal to build a city of 35,000 above New Jersey's largest water supply reservoir. Instead of that city it is now a 22000 acre state park, but that park and our water supply is threatened by a proposal to build a mega casino in the middle of that state park. The proposal is for a 1.4 million square foot casino complex with a 1,000 room hotel. The company proposing this casino is Genting, a Malaysian conglomerate.

This proposal is a dagger in the heart of Sterling Forest threatening New Jersey's water supply, habitat and scenic vistas of one of the largest unbroken forest left in the New York metropolitan area.

This casino proposal will bring traffic and water pollution into the same streams that we fought so hard to protect. This will directly impact New Jersey's water supply. They need to take park land to build an interchange. It would be around 240 acres with over 9,000 parking spaces, 25 new structures, and would have a 7 story hotel going up to 122 feet in height. It would be expected to have around 7 million visitors a year.

This location is ten miles from the New Jersey boarder and within an hour drive for almost all of north Jersey. It is a direct threat to Atlantic City's casinos. New York gets the New Jersey's gamblers and we get the pollution.

In the late 1980's there was a proposal to build a massive development on the NJ-NY border in sterling Forest. The original proposal called for more than 7.5 million square feet of commercial and office development and a city of 35,000-45,000 people. The project started a bi-state then national battle to preserve what was the largest piece of privately held developable land in the New York City metropolitan area. Under the proposal more than 5 million gallons of undertreated sewage would be discharged into New Jersey's largest water supply reservoir.

The public outcry led to the protection of those lands. Instead of a city it is now a large park state park in New York and a 2,000 acre county park in New Jersey. The battle to save Sterling Forest brought everyone together from Newt Gingrich to Bob Torricelli. This was so important to the state of New Jersey that we sent more than $15million to New York to help acquire the property. Bill Bradley blocked Senate Appropriations until we got the needed $35 million in federal monies. The visitor center in the New York State Park is named after Senator Lautenberg because of his work to save the park and financial donations to save the land. Passaic County used eminent domain to acquire the land in New Jersey. Over $100 million in public money went into saving the forest. Tens of thousands of people came out to hearings and meetings. NJ Sierra Club members got more than 25,000 letters sent to Governors Whitman and Pataki. Over a 180 municipalities passed resolutions in support of acquiring the land.

 Sterling Forest was a catalyst for efforts to save the Highlands region in New York and New Jersey. It took almost twenty years to save the entire forest. In 2006 we acquired what we thought was the last 500 acres. Now they are proposing to build a mega casino in the public park.

Tuxedo quietly changed their zoning to allow this proposal to move forward without notifying the state of New Jersey. The town of Tuxedo wants to be in charge of the environmental review process for this proposal. Since they endorsed the project for the casino commission and changed the zoning for this project they have a conflict of interest they should not allowed to be in control of the environmental review.

Having tuxedo in charge of the environmental review is like having Ben & Jerry's in charge of your diet.

They even want to bring back on exit on the NY Thruway which was stopped in 1992 because of the impact it would have on the Palisades Interstate Park and the Ramapo River. It would promote sprawl into Warwick.

The Palisades Interstate Park Commission should be in charge of the environmental review since this proposal will impact their lands.

They will also be drawing water down from the Ramapo River, lowering river flows that would directly impact New Jersey's water supply intakes. They would be replacing clean water that currently flows into the River with millions of gallons of sewage discharge. Since New York state's water quality standards do not recognize New Jersey's water supply intakes it would be treated to a level of discharge equivalent to dumping it into the East River.

The traffic will make it harder for hikers and others to use the park. The building itself will impact the ability to enjoy nature in one of the largest forested areas we have left in the region. It will impact the view from the Appalachian Trail.

This is in the middle of the largest expanse of hardwood forest that runs virtually unbroken from Bear Mountain down to Pyramid Mountain. More importantly it is in the middle of a contiguous, roadless forest area of over 25,000 acres from the Monksville Reservoir up to this site.

The state of New Jersey needs to be opposing this project and engaged in the environmental review. Governor Christie should call Governor Cuomo and ask him to kill this project to protect our water supply. The state of New Jersey should sue if New York doesn't listen since New Jersey has a lot invested in protecting in Sterling Forest and our water supply. New York gets the revenue and we get the pollution.

This is our Yellowstone, this is our Yosemite and we would not be putting a casino in the middle of those parks. In some ways this is even more important to us because this would impact the drinking water supply for close to 3 million people. There are plenty of other places for casinos. What was once considered one of the largest environmental victories of the last 30 years would be undone by this casino. Don't gamble on Sterling Forest.

Nicole Dallara, Outreach Coordinator
New Jersey Sierra Club
145 W. Hanover Street
Trenton, NJ 08618
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Received on 2014-08-06 07:20:50

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