EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

August 18, 2013

Cashing in

Economics play a big hand in casino vote

(Continued)

The Greater Merrimack Valley Convention and Visitors Bureau, meanwhile, has partnered with Penn in building “a comprehensive marketing campaign to draw visitors to the Merrimack Valley region” if the casino moves forward.

“We have been impressed by Penn National and their vision for growing the tourism industry in the Merrimack Valley,” Deb Belanger, executive director of the bureau, said. “We are looking forward to working with them, and are excited about what this could mean for our industry.”

A question of value

While a casino might be good for tourism, it’s being viewed with trepidation by nearby property owners to the proposed site who are concerned about the values of their homes.

Realtor Tom Carroll with Remax Partners in Andover said he has a potential buyer looking to upsize with the purchase of a house off Lowell Street in town, the main road between the twin highway interchanges with routes 93 and 495. But the deal is on hold until after Tuesday’s vote in Tewksbury.

“They’re concerned about the value and things that might impact their value,” said Carroll, adding the potential increase in traffic on the already busy main road is also a major factor driving the buyers’ decision.

While abutters on the Andover side of the casino site — such as residents on Jordyn Lane — haven’t had a say yet, their voices would be heard in the eventual permitting process if Penn succeeds in winning the state’s sole slots license.

“Our neighbors are important to us,” Jeff Morris, public affairs director for Penn, said. “Should we be fortunate enough to win this license, we’ll reach out directly to the folks who live on Jordyn Lane and do what we can to appease their concerns, and do what any good neighbor can do.”

Tewksbury’s three public safety unions — police, superior officers and firefighters — have lent their support to the casino after Penn National pledged to provide them with $900,000 in grants if the proposal advances. But emergency officials in Andover aren’t quite sure what to expect if a casino moves next door.

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