Debary City Council says no to horse track, poker room

Officials vote to leave lot empty

DeBARY, Fla. – After a 2 1/2-hour debate Wednesday night, DeBary City Council voted to leave a large piece of prime real estate empty rather than allow a horse track and poker room.

"I think they have cheated the city of DeBary out of some very good revenue," resident Phyllis Ervin said.

A packed house that was filled with people wearing buttons in support of the horse track and poker room left disappointed.


"I do think they made a mistake by not even allowing us to bring the project forward," said land owner Steve Costa. "My personal opinion is they're scared to have to deal with the project, they don't want to have to deal with the controversy."

Costa said the project, Destination DeBary, would have brought a quarter horse track, a poker room and possibly restaurants, hotels, and multifamily housing.

"Sunrail's been open a year. The property's been down there since the last time this was presented and nothing's there," said Mayor Clint Johnson. "If this could be an economic driver, if this could bring potential, then it's something that should be considered."

The mayor seemed on board, but others on the council were not.

"This is a travesty," said resident Linda Camporese. "After everybody got up there and said they would like to see this new destination -- for them to at least allow the opportunity to presented to us, I think is terrible."