Monday, May 02, 2005

06: “Casino Royale flush, Part 2 - That 42 Acre Tract Again!"

Continued from: 05: “Casino Royale flush!, Part 1 – The Insult"

The ever developer-friendly, anti-agriculture Straban Township Supervisors (known here as “The Strabaddies”) and their rubber stamp Zoning Board, have already overseen the paving of 40% of Straban’s once fully farm-covered township.

Once before, "The Strabaddies" have been involved in the same 42 acre plot on which Bob Monahan and David LeVan wish to build their Casino and Spa. A few years back, "The Strabaddies" and the great WalMart Corporation wanted to allow WalMart to construct a superstore (a WalMart with a grocery section) on the 42 acres. The problem then was an adjoining 14 acre parcel which once housed a Federal Communications Commission antenna farm. WalMart needed it to make a nice, neatly shaped plot of ground for its store, and Straban owned the plot. Easy enough, swap for it. Here is where "The Strabaddies" got into trouble.

The 14 acres was to be transferred to Straban under the Federal “Lands to Parks” program, where local municipal entities could obtain former, unneeded Federal land by meeting some criteria first. In order to take ownership of the 14 acre plot, Straban had to jump through a number of hoops for the Federal Government. First, they had to pay for and conduct a survey of the property. No problem. Then they had to develop a plan for either recreational or educational use for the property. Next, they had to budget for the development and continued use of the property. Finally, Straban Township had to promise to keep the property forever (in perpetuity). "The Strabaddies" apparently satisfied the Feds and the property was transferred to Straban Township. The township now had a 14 acre park, but it still had to develop it as a park and administer it as a park.

Instead, WalMart, and "The Strabaddies" went, hat in hand, to the National Park Service, who apparently administered the transfer, asking to lift the ban on transferring title to the property so that they could arrange a land swap deal with WalMart. In exchange, WalMart would construct a couple of ball fields in back of their store.

One question never answered was when WalMart first approached the township about building there and needing the plot, and when "The Strabaddies" filed for the “Lands to Parks” parcel.

When the question surfaced, WalMart could not get out of town fast enough, and the person who asked the question received visits from some retired law enforcement personnel…innocuous visits, but a message was sent. The Gettysburg newspaper was complicit in this as they were the recipients of the question, yet never published anything about it in their paper. Yet someone got a personally delivered message from, well, from someone involved.

Apparently they were foiled in their plans to not have to do anything with the property except turn it over to WalMart in exchange for “a couple of ball fields”.

It is two years later and little has been done on the 14 acre tract that is supposed to be a recreational or educational park. "The Strabaddies" tried unsuccessfully to get the Borough of Gettysburg’s Recreation Commission to administer the park, but that was shot down.

Now, we have LeVan and Monahan who want to build their Casino on the same plot that WalMart had designated as their location for their Superstore.

Think about that. A casino. Next to a recreation park. Gambling on one parcel, while children play ball next door. Alcohol is served copiously and in many cases complimentarily to persons who are engaged in gambling.

Is that an ideal scene you have in your mind? While most of the folks who are attracted to the casino will be good, decent folks, gambling does have its darker elements, and addicted gamblers are susceptible to all kinds of pressures. Addictive personalities are usually addicted to more than one thing, as well. Add liquor to the mix, and you have an incendiary combination.

Go to Las Vegas and tell me if you see kids around. They are tucked safely out of sight of the casinos, and with good reason.

Frankly, my skin crawls at the thought of importing people like that here to Gettysburg for the return on the money, and ultimately putting our children at great risk.

That is the second insult in this deal…the first was despicable, this one is simply negligent carelessness, thoughtlessness at best. Greed consumes "The Strabaddies", the Adams County commissioners and the developers of Adams County. They become blind to the dangers, promise the moon, and will deliver little but headaches, high taxes, increased traffic, and danger to Adams County. It will no longer be a safe place to live, if not for the gamblers and such attracted by the casino, then simply by the traffic which is bound to increase. How many day-visitors to the casino will be leaving after a good time losing their money while getting drunk on the complimentary booze – only to spill out onto Adams County highways in that condition!?

Think about these things, Adams County. You CAN stop this nonsense. It starts with simply making your voice heard. Pressure your Representatives. Start showing up at Township and County government meetings and telling them you oppose the casino, and the development. Then back that up in the next elections. Find out who opposes these issues and who supports them. But for God’s sake, don’t let them risk your children like this.

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