Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Gettysburg Casino Debated

A hearing on whether or not to build a casino near the Gettysburg battlefield has moved into a second day. An overflow crowd squeezed into a Gettysburg hotel ballroom yesterday to argue for and against the proposal. About 400 people signed up to tell Pennsylvania's Gaming Control Board what they thought about the proposed Mason-Dixon Resort and Casino, which would be built on an existing hotel site less than a mile from the battlefield.
Opposition group "No Casino Gettysburg" brought some star power to its presentation, with historian David McCullough, filmmaker Ken Burns and actor Matthew Broderick appearing via video to argue a casino would sully the battlefield where tens of thousands of American soldiers died.
Adams County resident Kristin Rice told the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board that slots, poker tables and roulette wheels would dishonor the tens of thousands of soldiers who died during the three-day battle.

"What would we think of the French if they put a casino on the beaches of Normandy? We wouldn't out one next to Arlington National Cemetery. For our children, for our grandchildren, for the generations to come, please give Gettysburg the reverence it's due."

However, a large portion of the audience supported the project. Janet Knorr says Adams County needs the tax revenue.

"The seminary, the college, the Parks Service, the schools - they're non-taxable. So we need some more tax relief. And a place like this will bring in taxes. Not right away and not a whole lot, but it will finally do it."

Knorr agrees the battlefield should be protected, but says Gettysburg has to grow its economy, and the casino is a good step in that direction.

Developer David LeVan, who lives in Gettysburg, told the board he respects the battlefield's place in American history, but pointed out the casino would be built on a preexisting hotel site, and wouldn't displace any historical landmarks.

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