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Shinnecock Nation Explores Plan For New Resort, Conference Center

Patch logo Patch 8/18/2021 Lisa Finn
a sign on the side of a road: A new economic day could be dawning for the Shinnecock Nation as plans for a high-end resort and conference center are put forth. © Courtesy Lance Gumbs. A new economic day could be dawning for the Shinnecock Nation as plans for a high-end resort and conference center are put forth.

SOUTHAMPTON, NY — The dawn of a new economic day could be coming soon for the Shinnecock Nation — with the vision of hotel and conference center pitched for tribal lands.

On Saturday, tribal members voted to lease lands from the Shinnecock Nation on its Westwoods property in Hampton Bays to Shinnecock Sovereign Holdings, which focuses on the tribe's economic advancement, Shinnecock Nation Vice President Lance Gumbs said.

Talks about the hotel and resort project have only just begun, Gumbs, who brought the proposal for the project to the Nation, said.

"We still have a long way to go. The size, scope, and details have to be worked out. There is no contract at this time. It's a vision that, so far, our people have endorsed —but the contract negotiations still have to take place."

His vision, Gumbs said, is for a year-round, self-sustaining, non-casino gaming project. "This will serve to uplift our people through income for social services programs, additional jobs, and a real presence on the East End," Gumbs said. "We found the perfect mix for our area so we shall see what they have to say about this now — since it's not a casino."

The focus of the facility, Gumbs said, is on health and wellnees, with a spa and innovative tech incubator, all "overlooking the beautiful Peconic Bay," Gumbs said

Only 20 acres of the Nation's 102 acres will be used for the project, he said.

On Saturday, a vote was also taken to green light land use for a gas station to be sited near two large electronic signs on Montauk Highway on Shinnecock land, which are also a symbol of the tribe's quest for economic advancement, Gumbs has said.

The signs elicited some public outcry when erected. Upon completion of the first sign, the State of New York sought a temporary restraining order against the Shinnecock Nation. The state requested a preliminary injunction to remove the sign; a Supreme Court judge denied the request in 2020.

In February, the Shinnecock Nation unveiled plans for a casino that promised economic opportunity for tribal members but which also sparked some concerns among residents.

The project, called Shinnecock Casino Hamptons, has been a long-held dream, members of the tribe said.

"We've been at this for 20 years," said Shinnecock Tribal Chairman Bryan Polite.

Construction is slated to begin this year, Polite said at the time. The casino will bring 300 to 400 jobs to the area, Polite said. This week, a source who asked to remain anonymous said the Class II gaming facility is still moving forward on a multi-economic trajectory; however, the resort proposal and casino plans are not related.

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