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Onondaga County remains neutral on Tyre casino resolution

Ellen Abbott
Tyre residents attend Tuesday's Onondaga County Legislature meeting.

There was no vote at the Onondaga County Legislature Tuesday regarding the siting of a proposed casino in the Seneca County town of Tyre, but residents still had their say.

Lawmakers were originally going to vote on a resolution that would have supported development of a $350 million casino project in the small town of Tyre. The New York State Gaming Commission is deciding where to site gaming facilities in a region that stretches from Lake Ontario down through Seneca County, and east past Binghamton.

Legislature Chairman Ryan McMahon says unions approached the county about the issue, noting that if a casino is built in Tyre, as opposed to the Southern Tier, then 60 percent of the jobs would come from Onondaga County. But McMahon decided to pull the resolution when it became controversial.

"We had the discussion, but then obviously other advocates started muddying the issue on whether or not we were talking about being in favor of gambling," McMahon said. "And at that point we decided to stay neutral on the issue.”

Credit Ellen Abbott / WRVO
James Dawley speaks during the Onondaga County Legislature meeting Tuesday.

McMahon allowed about a half dozen residents of Tyre to speak their piece after they traveled from Tyre to Syracuse. All argued that a casino in the rural community would be a bad idea, including businessman James Dawley.  

"It certainly would change the character and nature of our time," Dawley said. "And we’ve been saying that, and really we’ve not been heard."

Dawley says they’ll continue to fight against the proposal by the Rochester-based Wilmorite Corporation, a daunting prospect for the small group.

"We only have literally 900 people," Dawley said. "And we’re amazed at some at the participation in our group and the activity to stand up against this. And it certainly isn’t the norm for a lot of people in our town.”

But the opponents don’t have the support of the Tyre town board.

“I would hope that they would see beyond the town board, the misrepresentation of the majority of the people," Dawley explained. "We would hope to bring that point across.”

The Tyre town board and several other governments, including county legislatures in Seneca, Wayne and Schuyler counties have supported a plan by the Wilmorite Corporation to build a casino off of a thruway exit in Tyre. Wilmorite estimates a casino would bring 1,800 jobs to the area.