By Edith Morgan
I am a “Johnny-come-lately” to this discussion of the locating of the slots at the Wyman-Gordon site.
I have to confess that I believe that this site is the worst possible site for such a business. We have all heard the arguments about the evils of gambling, the encouragement of a deadly habit on the part of those who can ill afford it, and the concomitant crime and degradation which often accompany the establishment of such a facility. We have also heard the argument that it will bring some quick cash into the city, at a time when it is badly needed. And it will put something in the place of an unused, polluted ugly piece of property.
But let us look carefully at this location: have you all ever driven through Kelly Square, even when it is not rush hour? Many of us have gotten through there on a wing and a prayer, to get to I290, or the Senior Center, the Girls’ Club, or Worcester Academy. I know there are plans to reconfigure this area, but even if traffic is improved, there are so many destinations in that part of our city that will still have to be accessed by that route, that adding traffic from a facility whose sole purpose is to pull coins out of the pockets of visitors is not adding to the improvement of this area.
There HAVE to be better uses of that piece of property: Deb Cary of Mass Audubon has suggested several. And I am sure that the many citizens working on the Canal district projects and the improvements of Green Street’s business improvements have ideas. Do we really have to sacrifice the Green Island area for a short-term gain of some dubious tax money? Worcester has always been known as a city of neighborhoods, each with its own distinctive style. Green Island may not be rich in cash, but it is home to much history and ethnic diversity. The present bad times, brought on by the injudicious ( and sometimes even criminal) investment of banks and other greedy entities, cannot last forever, though it should have been over some time ago.
Let us take the longer view, and not be for sale to the first, or highest bidder. We ought to have learned something from the destruction wrought by the way I290 was allowed to slice right through the city without regard to neighborhoods and businesses, killing the heart of the city, just to get through it fast…
I have been to Foxwoods and Mohegan – both are located way out in the country, away from population centers. They include eating places, hotels, and shopping malls, and are not connected to the surrounding towns. Both are full-service gambling establishments, offering live entertainment as well as many different kinds of games, not just slot machines… They are basically separate countries, with their own police forces, small Indian nations sitting in the midst of the State of Connecticut. What we are being offered is a pure and simple mass of slot machines, offering nothing more than just an opportunity to lose money .
Do we really want to sell out our city for such a short gain , sacrifice this area because we have not the foresight to see what this will do to Green Island? Are we really so greedy for some quick tax dollars that we can not see beyond the immediate future? Does money really trump all other values now? And is this the best that our city , the cradle of so much creativity and independent thought, can come up with for this property?