The Aqueduct revitalization, a project as contentious as it was hotly anticipated, broke ground today in Ozone Park. The project will turn the now-dilapidated Aqueduct Racetrack into Resort World, a combined racetrack and casino that state leaders hope will draw in $380 million every year.
Speakers at the groundbreaking included Gov. David Paterson and Forest Hills state Sen. Joe Addabbo Jr.
Addabbo said that Aqueduct's update had been the most important task he's had in his two-years in state office, because it represents a revitalization for Queens and more than 2,100 jobs.
"This project will create thousands of jobs starting very, very soon. Good worker jobs, good union jobs," Addabbo said to uproarious applause from local union members. "[It will] improve local economic growth to help put additional funds in the education portion of our state budget."
That revenue will all be coming, state officials said, from tourists and local residents gaming at the new racino.
Will Forest Hills residents make the trek to the new Resort World? If local Off-Track Betting parlors are any indication, the attendance from Forest Hills is likely to be mixed.
Several patrons at the Forest Hills OTB on Queens Boulevard said that as long as the OTBs remain open, they're a much more convenient place to take in the racing action that they enjoy.
Andrew Pryor, a Kew Gardens resident, said that while he can see himself stopping by to take a look, the OTB is likely to keep pulling in his gambling dollar.
"This is more convenient for me," Pryor said. "It's been years, probably more than 20, that I last went to Aqueduct. But I'll probably go take a look at it."
Other fans, noses buried in racing forms, said they to are more likely to stick with convenience over the amenities the new Aqueduct will boast.
Forest Hills resident Bill Botwinick, however, said that for retirees like himself, the pull of a brand new racino in the area would be hard to resist.
"I think it's a good idea, and it would certainly be a welcome change to hanging out in the OTB all the time," Botwinick said, admitting since his retirement he's been visiting the betting parlor about four days a week. "I don't go there to frequently now, but I can see myself driving through and finding a way to spend a dollar."