To the editor:
Most local articles on expanded gambling at Rockingham Park share "positives." The latest articles citing the informational meeting at Rockingham Park in February also stressed the "positives."
I'd like to share some of the "rest of the story" as I heard it at the recent "Rock" Casino meeting.
1. Town officials are promoting bringing a casino to Rockingham without knowing where the money is coming from to deal with traffic, with 10,000 additional people in town on a daily basis. Specifically, no traffic studies have been done, and there is no commitment from the state on funding needed Route 28 and Route 97 improvements to handle the additional traffic.
Mr. Wortman, CEO of Millennium Gaming and Rockingham Park part owner, stated everyone is going to use the interstate. Wishful thinking. He hasn't lived on Main Street-Route 97 east of Route 28 or tried to get in and out of businesses on Route 28 on a regular basis. Also unknown: whose property will need to be taken to make wider lanes to keep traffic flowing on these obvious routes to a casino. Everyone keeps telling me, "We'll pay for what is needed with the money the town will receive once the gambling is up and running." How can that be when no one knows what the costs will be?
2. Town officials are promoting bringing a casino to Rockingham Park without knowing how the water and sewer demands from 10,000 additional people in town daily will be handled or funded. Yes, the park has a water well, and I've been told Salem has an agreement with Methuen to handle overflow on sewage treatment. But according to the people I've talked with, no viability studies and no cost studies have been done. No one knows if the increased water demand can be handled or if Salem's sewer treatment, even with Methuen as a backup, is up to treating the increased demand. No one could tell me who was going to pay for all the updates and the increased costs of running updated systems going forward even if Rockingham Park pays for the immediate updates.
3. Regarding concerns raised at the meeting about cannibalizing local businesses, Mr. Wortman stated at The Meadows, Penn., Casino they work with area business through their Neighborhood Partners Program. Check out the program for yourself at http://www.meadowsgaming.com/images/stories/files/players_club.pdf.
This is what I found: $1 played at slots equals 1 slot point $5 played at the tables equals 1 table point; 1,000 slot or table points equals $1 redeemable at The Meadows or local participating Neighborhood Partners Program business. The Rock would have a similar program, Mr. Wortman said.
So, when you spend $1,000 at the slots or $5,000 at the tables. you'll have one dollar to spend at a local participating store or restaurant? I'm not a betting person, but if I were I wouldn't consider those odds as favoring any increased revenue for local businesses.
Don't bet on getting the full story from local articles. Check out additional resources at: http://www.noslots.com
The Rev. Kathleen Towns