EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

July 18, 2013

Casino eyed in Andover's backyard

Proposal to bring 1,250 slots to Tewksbury faces opposition

ANDOVER — A 1,250-slot casino proposed on the Tewksbury border is drawing some stiff opposition from local and state officials and residents in neighboring Andover.

The proposal by Pennsylvania-based Penn National Gaming — which goes before Tewksbury selectmen for a possible vote tonight — aims to build a slots-only casino on a 30-acre lot at 300 Ames Pond Road off Lowell Street (Route 133) directly at the Andover town line.

Tonight’s meeting, which starts at 7 in Tewksbury Town Hall, continues a discussion between that town’s selectmen and representatives of Penn that began on Tuesday.

The proposed $200 million complex, which would be called Hollywood Casino, would generate $3 million in tax revenue annually for the town of Tewksbury, according to the project’s website.

In addition to the casino, which would operate around-the-clock seven days a week, the complex would include multiple dining options, bar and lounge offerings and free parking and employ. A hotel is also identified on one section of the website. The development would create 1,000 construction jobs and once completed, would employ about 500 people and draw business from across the state.

Andover town officials learned of the proposal last week after Town Manager Reginald “Buzz” Stapczynski received a courtesy call from Tewksbury’s manager, Richard Montuori, according to Andover Board of Selectmen Chairman Alex Vispoli.

Vispoli, who attended Tuesday night’s Tewksbury selectmen’s meeting to learn more about the plans, said he is “strongly opposed” to the proposal. He said he has also heard from several Andover residents who have voiced “serious concerns about traffic, safety, crime, noise essentially redefining the region.”

State Sen. Barry Finegold, an Andover resident who also represents Tewksbury, also registered his opposition.

“I’ve always been against extended gaming, and whether it’s in my district or outside the district, I don’t think it’s a good idea,” he said.

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