With all the activity around home and the Democratic convention, I have been a laggard about my blogging. The recent “out of the blue” proposal for a slots parlor in the town of Tewksbury – in fact for a site just down the road from my North Tewksbury home – has gotten me back on track. As a reminder – the State Gaming Commissioners will be selecting one site for a slots license from five proposals. So far the other four sites in contention are in Leominster, Millbury, Plainville and at Raynham Park. The plan for Tewksbury is on the agenda for tonight’s Tewksbury Board of Selectmen’s meeting. The speed with presenting the proposal is alarming but the gaming gurus want the five possible host communities agreements signed by July 26, 2013. Yes – that’s just about ten days away!
The Worcester Telegram has an article giving some preliminary information about the slots applicants and their “corporate” backgrounds that you can check out here: http://www.telegram.com/article/20130715/NEWS/307159867/1116.
According to some local on-line articles and some rumors – the $200 million project would include 1,250 slot machines as well as other amenities to be located on a 30-acre parcel adjacent to Ames Pond on Rte. 133 and nearby the off-ramp from Rte. 495. Regular commuters out Rte. 133 will be familiar with the area beyond the Cracker Barrel Restaurant on the south side of the well and heavily traveled road.
The Tewksbury Patch has an article that asks readers for their opinions and comments. The reactions are mixed as expected but with the majority on the “No” side. One comment in particular caught my attention. Area resident Karin Theodoros Zaroulis has a thoughtful view to share. She notes a variety of serious impacts to the site, the greater neighborhood and the town while posing questions about the “rewards” and noting elements of our Master Plan. The whole article with comments can be read here: http://tewksbury.patch.com/groups/business-news/p/will-you-support-a-slots-parlor-in-tewksbury.
Karin Theodoros Zaroulis’ comment follows:
In answer to the question, will I support slots? The answer is No. Will I ever support any elected official who votes for such a use? The answer is NO. I will never support any elected official who votes for such a use. In fact, I may just run against them… I have lived in this area since 1995. I KNOW that parcel was zoned as an office park, not a gambling facility. White collar salary levels for Tewksbury Residents were anticipated. Two entirely different things. I wish to point out, that although the applicant offers lip service jobs and boosts to outside businesses, this proposal is for a “self contained” entity, with eating and sleeping accommodations provided on site. The goal of this INVESTOR is to keep the dollars on site. Everything a gambler needs is on this parcel. Even if gamblers DO leave, they have no need to go further that the National Chains on 133. Forget the local businesses on 38. How would anyone get to 38 from this Ames Pond Location anyway? Via North Street? Trull Brook Road? How? There is not one thing here, other than mere lip service, to suggest that those long time local businesses along 38, who have been hanging in here and scrapping by since 2009 during a downturned economy will be benefitted by this. In fact they will be destroyed. I also do not see how offering a bunch of minimum wage jobs will improve the socioeconomic status of the residents of Tewksbury . Are they promising $60,000/ year min for everyone that works there? If not do not even consider this. As far as tax revenue goes, it’s the same for any business. It doesn’t matter what commercial use this parcel gets put to. The revenue to the Town will be the same. ( Meanwhile the demand on police will vary for sure!) Maybe the selectmen need to work harder to lure better, safer, businesses into town. As someone who has lived here since 1995, given the residential growth that has occurred in this Ames Pond neighborhood during the last two decades, I suggest that the best use here is that originally intended in the 1990’s master plan: a state of the art grocery store ( Now preferably organic for our kid’s benefit) with a state of the art drug store. Such a facility will not only draw ALL of North Tewksbury and possibly Belvidere, Lowell, but also the entire of West Andover, all the way to 93. The people who live in this area have quite a haul to get groceries, whether to Route 38 or to Main Street. I have no doubt a good Organic Grocery Store would really hit the spot here. Those of us nearby do not need a situation where our families are put at risk because out of Town gamblers and underpaid residents, who lose their life savings on slots, decide to try to recoup from the neighboring homes, before they hit the highway. As a home owner, this “slot parlor” proposal makes me feel the safety of my home and family nearby is seriously jeopardized. For people who are not familiar, please note this: In addition to all the expensive homes, there are 3 schools and one church within a half a mile of this parcel. One of those is a KinderCare. Another is nursery school. Any attempt to introduce these types of parlors into a school and religious zone is deplorable. The answer to that is also “No”. I direct everyone to the following link about the impact of slot parlors: http://www.telegram.com/article/20130507/NEWS
For full disclosure – I am not in favor of this proposal. The impact will be more negative than positive and the fall-out will spread beyond the Town of Tewksbury into Lowell, Andover and the environs.