Wednesday, December 20, 2006

What A Facade!

What's that saying, "build it and they will come"? But just don't build it in my neighborhood, right!

I guess since the US is barely manufacturing anything these days it's OK to put a casino in an abandoned manufacturing plant. After all, what do low income neighborhoods need more than an outlet to lose their money? What happened to creating new businesses and building housing? Sure, put a few new porches on the neighborhood houses, call it a "facade-improvement initiative" and they'll welcome a casino across the street.

It's just a facade.


Where casinos may rise, apprehension is building
By Joseph A. Gambardello Inquirer Staff Writer


Lori McCole is afraid that her daughter could get run over on the way to school by a gambler who has been up all night drinking.

Samantha Pakech worries about traffic jams and property values falling.

Christopher Tucker asks if some kid will repeat his own childhood and end up sleeping in a car outside a casino while a parent blows the rent or mortgage money inside.

Go to the sections of the city where a casino could rise and you will hear a litany of reasons that the negatives may outweigh any benefits that slots parlors can bring to the city.

Imagine, opponents ask, six million people a year descending on your neighborhood to gamble - and probably drink - 24/7.

Today, the state Gaming Control Board will vote on which two of the five companies competing for a license in the city will get the go-ahead to build and open casinos.

Gaming supporters say gambling in the city will reduce the wage tax, contribute to the expansion of the Convention Center, give $5 million annually to the school district, add about 2,000 jobs, and further spur waterfront development.

There is no accurate measure of the level of opposition in the neighborhoods that could host a casino - Port Richmond, Fishtown, Northern Liberties, Pennsport, and East Falls and Nicetown - but a poll conducted by Mayor Street's Gaming Advisory Task Force last year offers some insight. That survey found that while six out of 10 Philadelphians felt gambling would improve (14 percent) or have no effect (46 percent) on the quality of life in the city, six out of 10 also opposed having a gaming hall near their neighborhoods.

The potential problems cited by opponents are familiar and fall under the quality-of-life rubric: traffic, drugs, alcohol, prostitution and crime. They also note that slots players are not high rollers and that the lure of a jackpot could prove irresistible to some struggling neighbors in their rowhouse communities.

"This is a poor neighborhood and they'll make it poorer," said Audrey Harris, who lives in Nicetown near the proposed TrumpStreet Casino at the old Budd plant.

And on the riverfront - where the traffic impact of two casinos has not been fully studied - port industry workers are concerned they will be squeezed out and shippers will take their business elsewhere if their trucks get stuck in casino-related tie-ups.

In the neighborhoods near the casino sites, opposition when it exists tends to be more personal than a blanket dislike of gambling, although that figures in the equation, too.

While she is worried about her 13-year-old daughter's safety, McCole also is concerned about the money she has spent fixing up her rowhouse on Salmon Street in Port Richmond and the possibility her neighborhood would be torn asunder to build an exit ramp from I-95 for the Pinnacle Casino. "The ramp could go over my house," the hospital grants manager said.

On Reed Street in South Philadelphia, a short walk from the Foxwoods site, Pakech sits in the rowhouse she and her husband, Stephen, have been fixing up and voices a similar concern.

But on Roberts Avenue, across from the proposed TrumpStreet project, in which Inquirer publisher Brian Tierney is an investor, rowhouses are getting new porches already, a result of a recent facade-improvement initiative paid for by Preferred Real Estate, which sold Trump his property. "For free," said Vera Owens, who said she thinks a casino would be good thing.

Tucker, who lives in Fishtown near the Riverwalk and SugarHouse casino sites, said he had been to Las Vegas and Atlantic City, sleeping in cars, until his father overcame his gambling addiction. He is against casino gambling in all forms, but said at least those two cities are resorts built around entertaining people. "We don't need it in a place where we're trying to live our lives," said Tucker, a father of a 3-year-old and a designer for an architectural firm.

"Casinos are vice, and vice brings more vice," he said.

Summarized by Copernic Summarizer

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.