If Casinos were an issue…

Does a casino make sense for ward 3?

 

The issue of a casino has been bandied about in political campaigns for at least the last 20 yrs, almost as long as commuter rail. Both issues have the potential for significant impact on the economic viability of the city and its commercial and residential tax base. However, I’d like to explain how and why I would support a casino, if it were to be located in Ward 3 at the so-called “Hicks-Logan” site. (Perhaps Revere Copper and Brass’s former location)

Gambling:

I see gambling as a recreational activity those with the disposable income to do so, enjoy to pass the time on occasion. Casinos generally make for a great night out to celebrate an anniversary or birthday or just an excuse to gather with friends. Casinos today are entertainment destinations, rather than just slot parlors or high stakes card game halls.

I am keenly aware of the “problem” gamblers and the (hypothetical) potential for increased crime. I am also aware of people who choose to spend their money on scratch tickets and keno instead , by and large, of the things their families need to be successful and contributing members of society.  However, the reality is whether you are in New Bedford, Massachusetts or Deadwood, South Dakota the opportunity for people to behave badly exists. My point is simply, that a casinos lure is no greater on those with little financial means, than it is on those with great wealth.

The truth is, the casino debate is very much a hypothetical one. None of this is ever going to be possible until the folks who make the laws in our state can come to an agreement that makes sense for the various constituencies they represent. But if they ever did pass “casino legislation”, I see no reason why New Bedford and specifically ward 3 wouldn’t be an ideal location.

Economic Development:

Jobs are more than a buzz-word for candidates or incumbents to lean on when they have no obvious historic record of specific achievement. Jobs are a concrete need and concern for the citizens of ward 3 and New Bedford at large. A casino will bring a certain amount of employment with it in all its phases of development. A successful casino that is properly managed and marketed widely will continue to bring career opportunities to our citizens for many years to come. However, it’s important to note that these jobs will be mostly in the service sector and retail and hospitality for the foreseeable future. Truthfully, that kind of thing makes me happy as career tech educator. It means my students will have local, viable employment opportunities. I also believe that the building trades and public safety sector will be enriched as well. Casinos, in order to stay profitable long term have to constantly redesign and reinvent their surroundings and promote growth around them as well. It’s likely a casino will participate in local events and enrich the nonprofit community as well. It’s important for a business the size of a casino developer to maintain a healthy relationship with its host city.

Historic Preservation:

New Bedford, like my fellow French man Gerard Bourassa always says, “Is the city of whales, textiles and scallops.”  It would be most important to stress the cultural and historic significance these things mean to New Bedford and the surrounding south coast communities when considering proposals for casino development in ward 3. The city council, the zoning board, our historic preservation planner and the economic development officer in New Bedford all need to be on the same page when it comes to a wise development that fits within our historic urban landscape aesthetic. I’m not sure a 15 story golden pyramid would be the best approach for our city by the sea.  Rather, a structure and layout that makes peace with its surroundings, offers green-scapes and integrates seamlessly with the Acushnet River is probably better suited to a city whose major assets lie in its historic abolitionist, whaling, fishing, textile and arts and cultural palette.

As a city we need to make sure that we craft local legislation that is casino/business friendly without burdensome bureaucratic hoops of fire for the developers and entrepreneurs to jump through.  It’s my aim to make sure that New Bedford and ward 3 get the best possible casino “deal” while being profitable for the long term for all the people and businesses of the city.

 

 

 

 

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