Autumn in the North Cemetery.

Sixty miles west of Boston, Massachusetts there is the small New England town of Sturbridge. Located at the junction of I-90 (The Mass Pike), and I-84 it has become known as the "Crossroads of New England". The town was first settled over 300 years ago, and like other small New England towns it has grown just enough over the years to be in a difficult place today. How do we embrace the future without forgetting how we got to our present? How do we attract the right kind of growth, and maintain who we are? And, what about our culture out here in Central Massachusetts?

These pages will cause one to think about how to protect what we have, our future direction, and how to move on in the very best way.

Those thoughts, and other ramblings, will hopefully inspire more thought, conversation, action, and occasionally a smile...

...seems to be working so far

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

We All Need To Learn More

I am at a most awkward place right now. I really can't say how I stand on a casino here in Central Mass. I have to admit that I have thought about it, but not really thought about it.

I have been to Mohegan sun once, and to Foxwoods once. I visited the casino on a cruise ship once, and about once a month I buy a Lottery scratch card, or two. I have little experience with gambling except in middle school when I was a fanatic about pitching pennies, and flipping quarters. Yes, that was addictive for a twelve year old.

Now, I know that there are some folks out there against any form of gambling whether it be scratch cards, or casinos. Life experience with gambling has dealt them some hard times, and I respect how those folks feel, and their opinion, but I'd like to address how other folks, without a history of gambling in their lives, feel about the idea of a casino in Central Mass today.

The Not-In-My-Backyard folks offer a whole slew of reasons why a casino should not be built in Central Mass, particularly in Palmer. Here are a few:
  • Current infrastructure may not be able to handle increased traffic to area from Route 20, and Mass Pike.
  • Increased traffic, at all hours, will strip the area of the small town, rural-ness away from the area forever.
  • Crime will increase.
  • Folks with an issue with gambling will have just another venue for that issue to run rampant.
  • Other folks may develop issues with gambling as a result of a casino down the road.
  • Folks with an issue with gambling will eventually have severe financial problems that may weigh on the taxpayers of Massachusetts in some form.
  • The money generated is entirely dependant on the success of the casino in rural Central Massachusetts. Is there a sufficient audience here?
  • The tax revenue generated is tied directly to income generated. Little interest, little income, little tax revenue. How can the casino owners be sure of success in Central Massachusetts?
Those are just a few of the reasons people are against such a venue out in Palmer. Now, a few of the reasons some people would like to see a casino built out this way.
  • Gambling can be fun.
  • The entertainment at casinos is world class, and something not available here in Central Mass.
  • The facilities a casino offers is usually much more than other hotels, and there is more to do at these venues besides gambling.
  • There will be construction jobs as the facility is built.
  • There will be other jobs once the facility is built.
  • The infrastructure leading to the facility will be upgraded by the casino owners.
  • Tax revenue generated by the facility will be well worth the aggravation.
Well, that's about all I can come up with. As I said above, my experience with gambling, and casinos, is very limited. What I do know is that any large change in lifestyle in a particular area is felt far beyond where the change is made. Whether it be a good change, or a bad change, what happens in Palmer will affect me on Brookfield Road.

On May 6th at 7PM at the Quaboag Regional School auditorium there will be a public forum to discuss the impact of a casino in the area. Panelists include two Town Planners from Connecticut and executive police offi High cer from Ledyard, Connecticut. This may be something to attend if you have questions about just how a casino will affect us here.

I need to do more thinking on this whole thing. I know what I like about Central Massachusetts, it's just the drastic, dramatic changes a casino would bring that I need to explore more before offering an opinion. I guess that would be the same for most of us, too.

I bet now would be the time to start that exploring.

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