New York State’s 29th Senatorial District, which includes 143 West 72nd Street, where New York City Off-Track Betting (OTB) seeks to locate an OTB facility. I am strongly opposed to the siting of an OTB branch in this historic, residential neighborhood, and urge you to reject this proposed location.
Although wide, West 72nd Street has a wonderful urban, yet small town feel, and specifically, 143 West 72nd Street is absolutely on a quiet, mixed commercial and residential block within the Upper West Side-Central Park West Historic District. Considering the complaints that neighbors of the current OTB facility at 202 West 72nd Street have had about outdoor loitering, littering, loud behavior and cigarette smoking by patrons, it is not hard to see how an OTB facility would be disruptive and out of place at this location.
In fact, over the past ten years, local elected officials have secured over $1 million in New York City capital funding specifically for the economic and aesthetic revitalization and preservation of this historic block between Broadway and Columbus Avenues. Improvements including the repaving of roads, the restoration of building facades and the planting of trees have encouraged new businesses to set up shop on this once ailing block, drawing the perfect mix of pedestrians, shoppers and residents alike. Placing an OTB facility, with its inevitable adverse quality of life impacts, in the middle of this now flourishing block will undermine these efforts, discourage the very business owners the community worked so hard to attract, and inconvenience the many families and children living on the block. I implore the Board to take into account the 700 local residents who voiced similar concerns over the regression of their community by signing a petition opposed to the siting of an OTB facility at this location.
I must add that in opposing the siting of an OTB facility at 143 West 72nd Street, I am not protesting the relocation itself. I understand that OTB’s lease at 202 West 72nd Street expired last September and that it must find a new location soon. But, I must stress that the location OTB ultimately decides upon must be chosen with consideration to the community it plans on joining. I and a number of my colleagues have offered to assist OTB in finding a more appropriate alternative site. I am confident that, with our combined efforts, a more suitable option could be found.
Thank you for the opportunity to testify before the Off-Track Betting Site Selection Board today. I look forward to continuing on working with all of you further on selecting appropriate sites for our OTB facilities.