Opposition to a proposed casino 1/2 mile from the Gettysburg NMP
Peace-Time Vigilance 5/5/2011
The Evening Sun wrote an eloquent editorial calling for us all to put the casino issue behind us. During war time there can be no peace. Now we have won the battle, our second against the same bad idea, and we can take some steps to peace.
The first casino battle ran from April 2005 to December 2006. We quickly formed No Casino Gettysburg, an all-volunteer grass-roots non-profit organization, and fought a proposal by David LeVan for “Crossroads”, a casino to be located 1 mile from the Gettysburg National Military Park. One of the greatest strengths of our organization is our diversity of opinion. Our ranks have always included most political persuasions, diverse lifestyles, and lots of different ideas about the best way to proceed. Amazingly in this divisive cultural climate, we worked it through because we had a single goal. Our credo throughout both battles was “take the high road.”
In 2006 we won in the unanimous decision of the PA Gaming Control Board. After that, I made a statement that we were dissolving our non-profit, taking down our website, and disbanding. I felt that the battle had been so painful for the community that no one would propose a casino that close to hallowed ground again.
We paid our debts, allowed the web name to be sold, and moved on. When our group received a $2,500 cash award in 2007 we donated it to the Land Conservancy of Adams County, unaware that we would need funds again.
But by summer of 2007, and again in 2008, David LeVan was appealing to the PA Harness Racing Commission for a harness track, which would automatically include a large casino. The Harness Racing Commission and potential partners spurned both efforts. Since the Adams County locations of these ‘racinos’ were not revealed, our group did not re-assemble.
In November 2009 a reporter broke the story that Mr. LeVan wanted a crack at a last resort casino license. The Mason-Dixon Resort and Casino would be only ½ mile from the GNMP. We quickly re-assembled, opened another bank account, and got a new web address: www.nocasinogettysburg.org. Our Facebook page quickly reached nearly 9000 members.
But re-assembling was not as easy as if we had kept everything together in the first place.
On April 14, 2011 after 18 months of intense campaigning, the Gaming Board unanimously rejected the Gettysburg project. Six Board member’s individual votes went to Nemacolin, and one to Fernwood. Although Mason-Dixon told us that its project was a strong competitor, it did not get a single vote.
Now some people are calling for peace between our respective sides. Robert Frost wrote that “good fences make good neighbors.” Peace-making includes assertive boundaries. We learned from our experience that there is no permanent protection of Gettysburg from this bad idea. So although this latest battle is finished, the war is not won.
For all these reasons No Casino Gettysburg/ Save Gettysburg will remain a grass roots group, a trademarked PA registered non-profit corporation. We will continue to have a web presence, and have moved our Facebook page to Save Gettysburg-NCG. http://www.facebook.com/pages/Save-Gettysburg-NCG/127767087301188#
We’ll continue to monitor and advocate for appropriate legislation to protect the identity of Gettysburg as an historic, family-friendly small town. We’ll continue to build our partnerships, and work toward improved economic vitality of Gettysburg. We left after our first victory…we will never make that mistake again.
So the peace we can have now is similar to that of a peacetime army. We are relaxed yet vigilant. We accept that passion existed on both sides, and that different ideas and opinions are normal in a robust democracy. There is absolutely no need, ever, for retaliation against anyone. We can have peace, and we are each responsible for our own part in making and keeping it.