Canonsburg: What to do with casino cash?

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Canonsburg council is considering what its priorities should be when asking for a portion of Washington County's $12 million to $13 million share of revenues this year from The Meadows Racetrack and Casino in North Strabane.

Canonsburg has been asked to sponsor two requests for funds and write letters of support for two other requests. All applications must be sponsored by a municipality or county agency.

Terry Hazlett, Canonsburg manager, suggested Monday that council sponsor an application for a sports and recreation center in Town Park and one for the Greater Canonsburg Public Library to secure land for a new building.

Requests for letters of support have come from Canonsburg General Hospital for a lobby and the Roberts House on North Central Avenue, a Canonsburg historical landmark in need of repairs.

Councilman Steve Lucas suggested applying for $40,000 for a skate park to be built in Town Park and sponsor the library's application. He was opposed to asking for funds for a sports and recreation center.

Mr. Lucas also said council shouldn't sponsor an application for the proposed center because there are no drawings or information about it such as its size, cost and location.

Mr. Hazlett said the hope is that casino money could cover two-thirds of the $3 million to $5 million cost for a sports and recreation center. The balance would come from public donations.

Mr. Hazlett said he thinks this opportunity will be the last shot at getting money for the center because when a casino opens in Pittsburgh, he believes the Meadows' revenues will shrink and the way that the money is divided may change.

Currently, two-thirds of the local share revenue is to be used for economic development projects, including water and sewer improvements. The other one-third is to be used for municipal or community projects.

Other suggestions have been made for distributing the money, including setting aside a third of the money for sewer and water projects and a third to be distributed among municipalities, which included payments on a per capita basis.

If the borough is awarded money for the center but can't meet the match, the money will be awarded elsewhere, so the borough has nothing to lose by applying, Mr. Hazlett said.

"I look at this as our last best chance," he said.

The deadline is Nov. 14 for casino revenue applications.

Freelance writer Crystal Ola can be reached at .


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