Half a dozen bids to revive the Aqueduct racetrack in Ozone Park, Queens, were formally submitted to Gov. David Paterson’s office last week as part of a closed selection process, raising eyebrows among good-government groups.
Of the six bids, three have generated the most buzz thanks to their local connections and name recognition. Insiders say the leading contenders so far are bids by Manhattan’s largest landlord, SL Green; the Aqueduct Entertainment Group, which includes The Navegante Group and other New York area builders; and casino mogul Steven Wynn.
The state has declined to release information on the bids, though that has not stopped individual bidders from talking publicly about their offers.
But the secrecy surrounding the process prompted criticism from good-government groups.
“Leaving a contracting decision up to political leaders inevitably invites suspicion that politics will play a role,” said Blair Horner, legislative director at the New York Public Interest Research Group. “They should make this decision as open a process as possible so the public can rest assured that the decision was made on the merits and not on the politics.”