Friday, September 23, 2011

We're Back! Latest on Battlefield, Casino, and an Apology

We must apologize to our very valued readers around the world for our lengthy absence. Ill health and other personal issues have diverted us from keeping you up to date. We appreciate those so loyal that they patiently stayed with us during the hiatus. We thank you all.

First, the Battlefield has never looked better, from an historian's eye. The restoration to 1863 conditions continues, with work currently going on at newly-acquired Powers Hill. The elevation, one of the higher ones in the area located just west of Baltimore Street and north of Blacksmith Shop Road. It was used as an artillery platform during the Battle, with coverage of the lower slope of Culp's Hill, and the Spangler's Spring area.

The recently planted orchards are starting to take hold and show signs of growth. Some of the first planted have actually blossomed.

The Friends continue to build worm fences throughout the Battlefield. We are anxious to see the placement of field dividers in the Pickett's Charge area.

The final work on the Middle Street project [for this year -- more due next year but less disruptive] has pretty much ended and with the paving of the crossing of Seminary/West Confederate Avenue the job has finished nicely.

The only stinkers in the area are the continuing work on the Marsh Creek Bridge on Emmitsburg Road south of the Battlefield, and the "traffic islands" installed along Steinwehr Avenue, especially at Baltimore Street. What were they thinking?

Be aware also that the National Park Service is working to solve a problem of foot-traffic erosion in some of the more popular locations on the Battlefield. Nowhere is it more evident than on Little Round Top. NPS has attempted to control where visitors go on the hill with paths, chained off areas, and signs, all to no avail.

The casino issue was beaten back again earlier this year when the last remaining license was awarded to the Nemacolin Resort out in southwestern Pennsylvania. The majority partner in the Mason Dixon project decided to file a court appeal to that decision. The local backer, David LeVan, stated he wanted no part of the appeal and has filed to sever himself and his financial backers from the Mason Dixon project so they can work toward getting a casino here.

So, how can this be?

Well, the State Treasurer recently presented a report prepared by a casino industry marketing firm to the State Gambling Commission [sorry, we refuse to call it 'Gaming'. That is a purely contrived euphemism to make gambling more palatable to Pennsylvania taxpayers.]

In that report, he indicated that revenues from the current casinos, which have been increasing by double-digit percentage points every month, will soon decline to single-digit increases and eventually would plateau. There are options. One is to increase the number of slots and tables at each casino, but the saturation point of warm bodies walking in the casinos' doors has almost been reached, so increasing the number of machines and tables would not significantly raise revenues. Adding casinos would.

In that report, he also detailed six target locations, including Chambersburg and southern York County as potentially rich target areas for a new casino, and four other locations around the state. This, then is the other option: Chambersburg and York, and there are four options to this solution of adding more casinos.

1. Build a casino in each -- one in Southern York County, and one in Chambersburg.

2. Build a casino in either Southern York County or Chambersburg.

3. Build no casinos in either place.

4. Build a casino geographically in between Chambersburg and Southern York County. Obviously, this would target Gettysburg.

That final option is the reason for David LeVan's recent maneuverings. There is some talk of resurrecting the idea of building a harness racing track near Littlestown and pursuing a license for a casino at that new racetrack. This would likely involve the legendary harness racing stables of Hanover Shoe Farms, located in that area. This is a smoke screen. No doubt LeVan has some other location, as yet unpublicized, in mind, perhaps even the original planned site just east of the York Street/US 15 interchange, but we suspect a spot along US 30 west of town, perhaps near the local airport.

As Susan Starr Paddock, the head of the twice victorious No Casino Gettysburg, so appropriately warned in the local newspapers, the ugly head of a casino near the Battlefield is still with us. There is a bill in the General Assembly that would prevent a casino license being awarded to a location within 10 miles of the Gettysburg National Military Park. We would ask Pennsylvania residents who read this to please contact their General Assembly representative and ask him to support this bill.

We urge our readers, regardless of their location, to visit the No Casino Gettysburg Network site and do all you can to help this issue out.

Gettysburg deserves better than this. There are some things in our society, in our history that rise above money. The Gettysburg Battlefield and the physical context in which that jewel of National Parks sits, is one of those things. Almost 200,000 soldiers fought here on those three days in 1863. Fully one quarter of that number were casualties - dead, wounded, missing, or captured. The significance of the Battle fought here is too important to who the American People are, and what America means, to allow a gambling establishment to tarnish that importance because of money, and the stubborn greed of one man.


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Anonymous said...

Welcome, welcome back Gettysblog. Since moving to SC, I just haven't been able to get back to Gettysburg as often as I would like. Thanks for taking up the charge in this battle against the casino placement. Best wishes for good health in the future.

Linda Perkins