In a significant legal development on Thursday, November 9th, a New York State Supreme Court judge voided the 99-year lease agreement for Las Vegas Sands’ $4 billion casino project on the Nassau Coliseum property in Long Island. This ruling throws the future of the ambitious casino project into uncertainty.
The lawsuit, initiated by Hofstra University in April, alleged that Nassau County’s Planning Commission violated state Open Meetings Law by not properly notifying the public about a meeting concerning the lease issue. The judge concurred with this argument, leading to the annulment of the lease held by Las Vegas Sands to the Nassau Coliseum and the votes by Nassau County’s Planning Commission and legislature approving the lease transfer.
The decision was met with relief by members of the Say No to the Casino Civic Association, who had been vocal opponents of the Nassau Coliseum development. Steve Rolston of Baldwin, a member of the association, expressed satisfaction with the judge’s clear judgment, emphasizing the need for a slowed-down process and an environmental review. He said, “We’re delighted that the judge listens well and was so clear in her judgment to A, say we need to slow down and let the people be a part of the process, B and very importantly, we want an environmental review.”
Hofstra University President Susan Poser praised the judge’s decision, highlighting the court’s recognition of the public’s right to participate in decision-making about the Nassau Hub’s redevelopment. Poser expressed eagerness to contribute to the planning process, advocating for uses of the Hub that benefit the community while mitigating environmental and other potential harms.
Despite the setback, Nassau County is appealing the ruling. County Executive Bruce Blakeman remains optimistic, confident that the lower court’s ruling will be overturned. Blakeman advocates for the Sands proposal, citing its potential to bring significant construction investment, permanent jobs, and tax relief to residents. He said, “For far too long the Coliseum site known as The Hub has been languishing in a twilight zone of inaction. We are grateful that the Appellate Division granted a stay of the lower court’s decision, and we’re confident the lower court’s ruling will be overturned. I will continue to stand for the proposal by the Sands to develop a world class luxury hotel, spa, entertainment center, and casino which will bring $5 billion dollars in construction, good paying permanent jobs, and tax relief for our residents.”
The court’s decision comes at a crucial time as Sands prepares to apply for a competitive state gaming license. However, concerns raised by Nassau County residents, including traffic volume, gambling, crime, and air quality, continue to fuel the debate over the project’s suitability.
In response to the ruling, a spokesperson for Sands expressed continued enthusiasm for the project, emphasizing ongoing community outreach and the transformative potential of the proposed integrated resort and entertainment center.
The controversy surrounding the Nassau Coliseum site reflects the complex interplay of legal, environmental, and community considerations in large-scale development projects. As the legal battle continues, the future of the Nassau Hub remains a topic of intense debate and speculation.