Thank you for keeping your letters and quotes coming. You questioned where are last week’s letters? They were published online, www.berksmontnews.com, due to the upcoming March 4 meeting. Search under Opinion to find “On the Record” columns.
On March 12, at Caernarvon Township’s monthly meeting the Township Supervisors unanimously approved the land development plan presented by Hollywood Casino. The next official step is now in progress, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board is in the investigating stage and will hold another public hearing in Harrisburg at a not yet determined date.
At the March 4 public hearing, more than 250 people were in attendance with 45 preregistered speakers. There are two petitions, one against the casino signed by more than 1,000 people and a petition in favor of the casino signed by 156 people. Petitions are now the property of the PA Gaming Commission and will be available for view on their website, as well as being placed into the record of Caernarvon Township. Here are your new letters:
Shelly King of Honey Brook Township, Chester County
Community leader presenting the petition opposed to the casino
“I was asked to register, speak and present on behalf of those who would sign the petition(s) that the Elverson United Methodist Church organized on Feb. 17. After the rapid response to the petitions, we realized this was definitely a groundswell movement. In the week since the public input hearing we have been organizing community OPPOSITION to the casino through meetings and such that goes beyond the online petition “to oppose the development of a casino in Caernarvon Township, Berks County and the surrounding Twin Valley communities, [which includes the following seven municipalities in two counties: Caernarvon, Robeson, West Nantmeal and Honey Brook townships and Elverson, Honey Brook and New Morgan boroughs. It has begun to bring key people together and strategize the best move to block ANY casino coming into ALL of the above-mentioned municipalities. The petition is growing. Additional signs will go out in the community today and throughout the weekend. A website for resources on how to get more involved is coming together. A letter writing campaign is in the works. Meetings are underway to seek funds and unite the community. This is just the tip of the iceberg.
Michelle Raymond of Caernarvon Township, Berks County
Community leader circulating the petition in support of the casino
“Here is my take: 1) Gambling is legal; 2) The State government made the decision to allow Mini Casino Licenses to raise money; 3) Berks County will obtain a portion of the revenue; 4) Penn National bid for a Mini Casino and desired Caernarvon because of its location and visibility ;5 ) The location is along a Major East/West Highway (Turnpike) has an easy accessibility; 6) The Caernarvon area needs a stronger business base but due to poor demographics, it will be impossible without a large draw business.7) The Mini Casino is away from Town Center (Route 23) so only local traffic will result from local visitors; 8) The local visitors will be visiting our other stores (existing and future);9) Amenities desired by the local community could be attainable (restaurants, community center, revitalized Main Street) 10) The tax benefit for the county, township and school district are welcomed; 11) The Mini Casino has major onsite security that will have minimal impact on the local police force.;12) Casinos are very proactive against gambling addicts; 13) The perceived negatives are minimal as mentioned in this study.
14) Lastly, they support local causes including the fire departments, Relay of Life, etc. The Supervisors vote is contingent on several things being put into place.
Shannon Bernard of Morgantown
“I'm totally against the casino and how it will change our small, conservative Christian town. Those who are for the casino, such as the recent opinion in the Reading Eagle or the construction workers who came to the meeting, don't live in Morgantown and have no right saying it should be built here. It will change the core and climate of the town, will certainly cause traffic problems, will decrease my home property value, and will increase crime in the area. Although the casino folks say it will have no negative impact in the area, they are not telling the truth. If it will not increase crime, then why will they have 100 cameras in the parking lot? It's all been swept under the carpet, decisions have been made behind closed doors, and material has been redacted. I live very close to this casino in Morgantown. It's just over the turnpike, and I will certainly move (if I can even sell my house) if it goes in. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to voice my opinion against the casino. “
Jeanette and Ivan Blank of Caernarvon Township, Berks
“I was born and lived here my entire life. My husband and I are dismayed that this township is considering a casino be built in our town. When traveling I am glad to return home to our quiet, peaceful town. How horrible to get off the turnpike and see neon lights! A casino does not fit with the culture or values of this town and surrounding rural area. Casinos are known to draw undesired and illegal activity from the sex industry and would likely encourage bars and other undesirable businesses. I do not believe a casino would increase jobs, the job skills needed would draw people from other areas.
That board of supervisors who are entrusted to defend and guide the structure of this area, should support the culture and desires of the residents, many who have deep roots here. I propose a long-term approach to upgrading Morgantown and the surrounding Twin Valley district to encourage desirable businesses and potential residents to move here… I see neglected, run-down houses and businesses, and abandoned property across from Rite Aid, the former township building, the former hotel and laundry... Let's clean up our town. I encourage those land owners to either clean up and maintain their properties or sell them.” This letter was also sent to the Caernarvon Twp. Supervisors.
Kate Shuhler of Caernarvon Township
“Casinos are often sold to the public as a net positive for tax revenue generation, job creation and economic development. However, the experiences seen in areas such as Atlantic City and Camden do not fully support the thesis that legalized gambling offers much economic benefit to the local community. We know that there will be real law enforcement and societal costs… facing the inflow of criminal elements, coping with a quantifiable increase in drug addiction, organized prostitution, and human trafficking… There is a growing body of research clearly connecting casinos and the sexual exploitation of underage youth. A leading nonprofit dedicated to rescuing youth youth-spark.org published an article Feb. 8 about Atlanta and statistics linking Las Vegas casinos connecting prostitution & gambling ,explaining why prostitution rates skyrocket near casinos – with human trafficking as an inevitable byproduct… Our local elected officials remained silent, before and after they opted into being a location for Penn National. If this is built in Morgantown watch closely, ask questions and demand plans on how Penn National, local and State officials will handle the inevitable rise in negative elements….the house always wins, but at what cost? Our community should not pay the price if this proposed casino is built and fails.”
Please send your remarks with name and town to email@example.com. I am listening on the record.