FLUSHING, Queens (WABC) -- Community members rallied against potential plans to build a casino near Citi Field in Queens.
Protesters say building a casino in the area would "devastate the Flushing community."
Mets owner Steve Cohen held several "visioning sessions" earlier this year.
Last month, he released a report which said community members would like to see something built in the area, but made no specific mention of a casino.
But Cohen is reportedly looking into winning one of three licenses to build a casino in the New York City area.
Concerned residents say, casinos "siphon off money from local communities, while residents-like many in Flushing-are struggling with rent and the soaring cost of living."
They also want to protect 50 acres of public parkland.
"Flushing Workers Center is happy to join others in speaking out against the treatment of our community and to unequivocally say no to a casino at Willets Point. This is not about whether or not we like to gamble, it is about whether or not we sit silent and let someone come in and get more people hooked to gambling, destroy families, and bring only more problems to Flushing. We urge everyone to join us in not only rejecting the racist casino plans but in protecting our community- our residents, small businesses and jobs- and demanding development that helps Flushing thrive," said Sarah Ahn, the Flushing Workers Center.
"There are no two ways about it," said Rebecca Pryor, Executive Director of the Guardians of Flushing Bay, "privatizing 50 acres of public parkland in the middle of low and middle income communities of color is environmental injustice. This is not the time to sit back and enable a 50-acre, public park land grab. Our neighbors have been flooded in their homes, our waterways are soaked in sewage and our local park is one of the most prone to flooding in NYC. Communities from Flushing to Corona to East Elmhurst are in the 95th percentile for toxic air quality and proximity to traffic. We do not need a backroom deal casino. We need transparently planned, community-generated neighborhood projects that absorb rainfall, reduce air pollution, protect our public parkland and prioritize-rather than prey upon-our environmental justice communities. We call on local community organizations, NYC parkland advocates and elected officials to oppose the Citi Field casino license, protect parkland and stand with us as we fight for an environmentally just future for our northern Queens watershed."
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