Monday, August 30, 2010

The Fate of Gettysburg

I find this plan a little more than disturbing and extremely sad; but I suppose today in this world, everyone wants to "turn a buck." How many of us had ancestors (on both sides) who fought not only in this particular battle, but others where there will proposed construction for entertainment in the future?

As I recall a few years ago, there was a plan in this very area to construct an amusement park...I suppose that fell through and they are now planning for a casino. Here are two articles which I extracted for you. What do you think?

New Battle Fought Over Casino Plan Near Gettysburg

GETTYSBURG - Civil War preservationists are retrenching for another battle four years after defeating a proposal to build a casino near Gettysburg's historic site.

Casino principals, supports and opponents will speak Tuesday in a public meeting with state regulators who are considering the license application.

Developer David LeVan is a noted local philanthropist and former Conrail chairman. The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board rejected his first plan in 2006 amid an outcry that gambling would sully the character of the battlefield considered by many to be the war's turning point.

Opponents include Ronald Maxwell, producer of the 1993 epic movie Gettysburg.

LeVan and supporters contend that the new casino plan is much smaller than the first, and would renovate an existing hotel and conference center and promise new jobs.

Tourists Sandy and Brian Augustine of East Freedom, Pa., read about Pickett's Charge at Gettysburg National Military Park on Monday, Aug. 30, 2010, in Gettysburg, Pa. Some preservationists worry that a plan to build a casino near the park, if successful, would cheapen the sacrifice of the soldiers who died in the 1863 Civil War battle and ruin the area's wholesome reputation that draws tourists. (AP Photo/Marc Levy)

Casino Proposed Near Battlefield Splits Gettysburg

By MARC LEVY, Associated Press Writer
GETTYSBURG, Pa. (AP) -- The town where the Civil War's tide-turning battle was waged is fighting dissension in its own ranks, with even hard-core preservationists split over a proposed casino that would rise near the historic battlefield and be named for the line that divided North and South.

It's the second time in five years that Gettysburg has fought over a plan to build a casino. This time it's the Mason Dixon Resort & Casino, proposed on a hotel and conference center site within a mile of the southern boundary of Gettysburg National Military Park.

"No Casino" and "Pro Casino" signs pepper shop windows in the quaint streets of Gettysburg, where more than a million tourists shop, dine or sleep each year.

Supporters say the casino plan doesn't tread on hallowed ground and will bring jobs, more tourists and tax relief to the area. But the potential that a casino will cheapen the wholesome reputation that draws tourists to Gettysburg, where 160,000 Union and Confederate soldiers fought a three-day battle in the summer of 1863, is what worries many.

"It seems like a lot of people, they just want more business, they want more money to flow in the community at any cost, and that's really upsetting," said Barbara Schultz, a Gettysburg native and casino opponent who owns a bed and breakfast and collectibles gallery.

On Tuesday, casino principals, supporters and opponents will speak at a public meeting with state regulators who are considering the license application to build the casino. More than 390 people have registered to speak, meaning the hearing could spill into Wednesday.

One registered speaker, Violet Clark, who traveled from La Follette, Tenn., said a casino disrespects the sacrifice of the soldiers, who include her ancestors.

The developer, David LeVan, is a well-known local philanthropist and former Conrail Inc. chairman who lives across the street from the park's museum and visitors center. He has helped renovate the town's historic Majestic theater and donated family land to help preservation efforts.

He declined to comment Tuesday through a spokesman, David La Torre, who said casino opponents should instead focus their attention on development that is happening on land outside the park boundaries that was the site of battle activity.

"You've got to really keep it in its proper context," La Torre said. "You've got to realize how big this place is. It's humongous, and people are fighting us and we're not even located on it."

The nearly 6,000-acre park is bordered by the town, as well as areas already saturated with hotels and fast-food restaurants.

The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board rejected LeVan's first plan in 2006 amid an outcry that gambling would sully the character of the battlefield where Union soldiers stopped the Confederate advance.

LeVan and supporters contend the new casino plan is much smaller than the first - they are seeking a license that allows up to 600 slot machines and 50 table games - and would pump new life into a struggling hotel and conference center.

The county is supporting the plan in exchange for a $1 million annual contribution to its treasury. A local group, the Gettysburg Battlefield Preservation Association, endorses the plan, saying the potential to strengthen the local economy could boost preservation efforts. Park officials say they have determined that the casino does not directly affect park resources.

Still, the Washington, D.C.-based Civil War Preservation Trust put the Gettysburg National Military Park on its endangered list because of the casino plan.

In April, Ronald Maxwell, who made the epic 1993 movie "Gettysburg," came to town to deliver an impassioned speech to casino opponents.

The French would not allow a casino to be built on famous battlefields along the Somme River or in the Ardennes, and the Polish would not allow a casino a half-mile of the site of the Katyn massacre or the Auschwitz concentration camp, he said.

"Why stop at Gettysburg? Maybe we should build some casinos at the site of the World Trade Center," he said. "That would create some jobs right? Heck, that would help the tax base, right?"

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