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      Big Racino proposed for Alex Bay area

      It's now a three way race for the last remaining racino license in New York State.

      This week, developers unveiled plans for a $140 million to $240 million racino next to the Bonnie Castle Recreation Center near Alexandria Bay in the Thousand Islands. The facility would feature a horse racing track with a grandstand, a nightclub, hotel, video lottery machines and a 30,000 square foot casino. Bonnie Castle owner, Don Cole of Cole Muffler fame, says "the town needs it and they want it. I've got it and everybody will benefit." He says the project would provide 600 construction jobs, 500 permanent jobs and 2-thousand related jobs throughout Jefferson County.

      Cole says the proposed project has gained the support of prominent local politicians including Congressman Bill Owens and State Senators Patricia Ritchie and Joseph Griffo. Bonnie Castle co-owner Marc Fernandez of Baldwinsville tells CNY Central's Jim Kenyon that he's lined up a major financial backer but whom he will not identify for now.

      Partner Dick Champney points out that, if approved, their racino with a location off Route 81 at Alexandria Bay in the Thousand Islands, would attract visitors from throughout Upstate New York and Canada. "We want to keep money in New York and bring in money from Canada." Champney said.

      The Bonnie Castle racino will compete with two other proposals for the eighth and final harness-racing license in New York State. The state Racing and Wagering board is weighing other proposals for racinos at the Concord Resort Hotel in Kiamesha Lake in the Catskills, and another near Hancock International Airport in Syracuse.

      The Syracuse area racino is proposed by Rochester developer Thomas Wilmot. He has tied approval of the state license for the project to the proposed development of a long delayed convention center hotel in downtown Syracuse. Wilmot has run into obstacles with his racino plan. At first, he proposed that it be located at the State fairgrounds before switching to an industrial park near the airport. The Onondaga County Legislature has also voted against the idea of off-track betting in Onondaga County.

      What do you think about these racino proposals? Where do you think such a facility should go?