Austintown racino to open by 2014 - 21 News Now, More Local News for Youngstown, Ohio -

Austintown racino to open by 2014

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AUSTINTOWN, Ohio - Penn National Gaming executives met with the public and Austintown Trustees to provide new details on their plan to bring a thoroughbred race track and casino to the Valley. They now plan to open by early 2014.

Eric Schippers, the Senior Vice-President of Public Affairs for Penn National Gaming, tells 21 News the facility that will be built on Route 46 and Silica Road in Austintown and will be named, Hollywood Slots at the Mahoning Valley Race Course.

They expect to break ground and begin construction this fall on the facility that will include a one-mile dirt race track, grandstands, a casino with 1,500 slot machines, three restaurants and a sports bar. The facility will also include an entertainment and lounge area that will feature local acts.

The racino is expected to create about 1,000 construction related jobs, and 1,000 additional jobs once the facility opens. Those jobs include a number of hospitality positions working directly with the racino, as well as technical jobs that will need specialized training.

Other positions will be in-direct jobs or spin-off jobs, meaning other local businesses may add extra shifts or hire additional employees due to an increase in business.

The project is awaiting state approval to move its racing license from the Columbus area to Austintown. That approval could come late this year once Penn National has a chance to make their presentation before the Gaming Commission.

Austintown Trustee Jim Davis tells 21 News it's an exciting time, "This is only going to help the township. It will enable us to continue to provide services to our residents, police, fire and a new administration building. Things we couldn't have purchased without someone like Penn National wanting to put something in our community."

But several homeowners who live near the proposed racino expressed concerns about a number of issues.

Lisa Liposchak says she's concerned about how close the track is going to come to the buffer zone, and she's also worried about whether there will be crime in the parking lots and if there's any type of onsite security.

Eric Schippers reassured homeowners that there will be a 300-foot buffer so that those who live nearby won't experience problems with noise or lights from the facility. He also reassured them that even though the racino would be open 24-hours a day, horse racing is only during the daylight hours.

Schippers says, "I asked one of the trustees if maybe we could even do a smaller meeting with the property owners in that area. So that we can provide some examples about how we're building our facilities in other jurisdictions, how we've successfully addressed it in those areas, and hear about any other residential concerns."

The Penn National executives say they plan to be a good neighbor, and promise that this is just the first in a series of community meetings on the project.

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