Wednesday, April 26, 2006

136: “A Demonstration of Clarity and Integrity”

Apparently we have a local board of supervisors that has some integrity after all. In Limerick Township, the Board of Supervisors has come out four-square against the proposed Boyds Casino after much deliberation.

The board cited traffic congestion for which neither Boyds nor PennDot were able to provide an acceptable solution. Quoted in a story in the
Pottstown Mercury, one of the Supervisors, Chairman David Kane said, “There is a consensus among the board that this whole process was broken at its very inception, yet, we still felt responsible to understand the impact this would have had on taxpayers."

The Supervisors went to the midwest to visit two of Boyds’ operations out there. In a direct application of common sense and professional integrity, Kane said, "Those communities were in need of revitalization. They didn’t have a $92,000 median household income, as Limerick Township does. They were not bordered by pharmaceutical companies and King of Prussia corporate centers, and nearby Philadelphia."

Such clarity seems to be lacking in other localities with pending casino applications. Kane continued, “In talking to the different municipalities where Boyd Gaming has entered into, what they come back to us with is not the crime and prostitution. Traffic was the No. 1 problem that a solution was needed for, and it still is today."

Mike Pincus, a consultant hired by the township to assist in the decision said, "We were unique with this project, out of all the Category II license applicants. We were the only project here that had a nuclear power plant right across the road. It was also the largest project. So the traffic issue really had to be studied for many, many reasons. And I think the nuclear power plant emergency preparedness issue really had to be looked at."

Kane summed up,
"At this point, regardless of Boyd Gaming providing a traffic solution, Limerick Township does not want a casino inside of our borders.”

One of the many problems with the law that enables gambling in Pennsylvania is the clause that allows the Gambling Control Commission Board to ignore local zoning and local sentiment and grant a license to whoever they deem fit. The State Supreme Court struck that passage out, but the state legislature reinserted it in amendments to Act 71. So the wait isn’t over for the folks in Limerick Township.

Congratulations to the Limerick Township board of supervisors for taking such a stance on the proposed casino. They used the proper due diligence, and weighed the consequences. They deemed the already bad traffic situation to be vulnerable to a complete breakdown after the casino opening. Boyds had obviously not participated fully in traffic adjustments at the sites in Indiana and Illinois. Their track record on the issue likely weighed heavily against them with the supervisors.

Additionally, the Limerick Supervisors included nearby communities in their deliberations.

Pincus added,
"One of the things I’ve learned from this process is that it’s important for corporate entities and developers who want to come into Limerick Township, that they understand the community, that they understand the surrounding communities. I think that may have been missing in this process."

Indeed it has, Mr. Pincus. Except in Gettysburg where the investors simply drop a million dollars on the Borough of Gettysburg to buy their support. Now that’s taking a local interest.

Boyds owns the property on which the casino was to be built…it is across the street from the Limerick Nuclear Power Generating Station. Chairman Kane stated, “We would extend every professional courtesy to Boyd Gaming if they came back through with a new use that excluded gaming on that site. However, there is no offer that could be made to the township at this point that I feel would change our course of direction.”

The fight isn't over in Limerick, but their odds just improved drastically.

The odds in favor of the Gettysburg Casino just got a whole lot better.


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