Queens residents said creating jobs should be the top priority for whichever bidder is selected for the contract to redevelop Aqueduct Race Track in Ozone Park, according to a Siena College poll conducted on behalf of one of the bidders.
Of the Queens residents who responded to the poll, 95 percent said it was either somewhat important or very important for the project to create jobs for those living in the borough.
The poll’s respondents were asked to rank their top considerations for redevelopment at Aqueduct. Jobs for locals came in first with 36 percent, followed by creating jobs for non-Queens residents at 27 percent and maintaining the character of the surrounding community near Aqueduct at 15 percent.
Among the respondents’ concerns, crime topped the list, followed by traffic, noise and light pollution and construction disruption.
The poll was done by the Siena College Research Institute for Aqueduct Gaming, a group headed by Buffalo-based Delaware North.
Delaware North was originally awarded the contract to install 2,500 video lottery terminals, devices similar to slot machines, and redevelop Aqueduct last November.
But Gov. David Paterson canceled the contract and reopened the bidding process after the company could not give the state the $36 million up-front payment it promised.
Only 25 percent of Queens residents said they have been following developments involving the bidding process and subsequent renovation efforts at Aqueduct either somewhat or very closely, according to the poll.
More than 75 percent said they prefer the winning bidder be a developer with New York experience whose redevelopment project will not resemble a Las Vegas-style casino.
Support for the VLTs is at 25 percent, according to the poll, with 21 percent of respondents saying they do not care for the slot machines.
More than 60 percent said they need more information before deciding to support or oppose redevelopment at Aqueduct and half said they need more information about VLTs to form an opinion on the machines.
“Queens residents need more information before public opinion embraces Aqueduct redevelopment, said Siena Research Institute Director Dr. Don Levy. “Sure it would be great if the state coffers get a boost, but residents want a development that fits in and a developer that knows, respects, protects and helps the people of Queens.”
But borough residents were strong in their belief that jobs are important for the Aqueduct project, the poll found.
According to the survey, nearly all of those polled said jobs for people in Queens were either very important — 84 percent — or somewhat important — 11 percent. They also said creating jobs for anyone was either very important — 75 percent — or somewhat important — 17 percent.
Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at hkoplowitz
©2009 Community News Group
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