30 January 2010 by Published in: Battlefield preservation 9 comments

Blindly lashing out in response to the letter from the four preservation entities opposing the Gettysburg casino, the spin doctors hired by David LeVan have issued an especially ignorant and intentionally misleading response:

We are extremely offended by the decisions of the Civil War Preservation Trust(CWPT), National Trust for Historic Preservation, Preservation Pennsylvania & the National Parks Conservation Association to not remain neutral in regards to the application of Mason Dixon Resort & Casino in the Adams County/Gettysburg Area. These Washington D.C. and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania based lobbyist groups are only interested in one thing and that is to use this casino “debate” to raise money for their own greed. Not one of these groups has helped to create or save one job since 2006 in this county, but yet raised a lot of money by using the Gettysburg National Military Park (GNMP) as a “prostitute” to fill their coffers full of donations during the last casino project. These full donations, “to save Gettysburg'”, have yet to be delivered here.

From their own press release they obviously do not understand the economic impact this project will contribute to this area: “the letter outlined additional concerns with the project, including potential impact on the regions vibrant heritage tourism industry. Citing current visitation statistics and scientific economic impact analysis, the groups concluded that the combination of Civil War preservation and the family friendly nature of Adams County has created a proven, winning formula for the park and its neighboring communities. A casino will conflict with this proven economic engine heritage tourism, and development compatible with and respectful of that heritage.”

The county has experienced a 35% decrease in visitation since 2002 and we are now at nearly 9% unemployment which equates to nearly 10.000 residents. So just how successful has this “proven, winning formula”
been? Maybe they should have asked some of the local residents that would like to have a chance at a job at the casino.

Not one of these groups bothered to contact our organization to request information or obtain the local “pulse” of area residents. Had they done so or even bothered to interview those unemployed residents, maybe they could have a clearer picture of what “we the residents” think and desire.

Their missions are to educate and preserve historical locations from development, yet they side with No Casino Gettysburg (NCG), who’s own leader freely admits that she and her husband are sub-dividing their farm land for residential development which is in the “view shed” from Confederate Ave and on the boundary of the battlefield. The groups have stated that this sub-division is not an issue to them, yet a proposed casino is?

PCAC has been contacted by several former CWPT members stating they were lied to, cheated out of their donation and taken advantage of during the 2006 casino campaign. Once these members found out the true facts of that project, they quickly became ex-members of the CWPT. Pennsylvania Preservation did not even bother to get involved with the application of the Valley Forge Casino, a casino that is now located approximately 3,000 feet from the Valley Forge National Historical Site. They could not provide even one quality reason why that site is less important than the GNMP.

Like NCG, these four lobbyist groups have just proven how hypocritical they really can be. We are warning “All Americans” to avoid these lobbyist groups new scams for cash and media attention.

Jeff Klein & Tommy Gilbert
PCAC Spokesmen

There is so much wrong with this intentionally misleading statement that I hardly know were to begin.

First, and foremost, it’s clear that these organizations are not “lobbyist groups”, as these liars claim. These are organizations that put their money where their mouth is and actually SAVE battlefield land to preserve our heritage for future generations. This is an intentional misrepresentation intended to mislead those members of the public not familiar with these organizations. Let’s remember that this entity seeks to cannibalize its neighbors in Gettysburg and stand to make millions at the expense of the small businesses in and around the town.

PADDOCK LAND USE ISSUE

Susan and Jim Paddock donated a conservation easement on a large, agricultural property – but like most easements retained some future building rights.

This allowed for some subdivision into large parcels, not to be confused with anything approaching sprawl.

They are exercising their right to sell these parcels which carry restrictive covenants on future building sites which will not be visible from the Fairfield Road or the National Military Park. This is being carried out with the utmost sensitivity to the adjacent historic and natural resources – sensitivity not being a term in the Pro-casino dictionary.

Thus, the nasty and completely unwarranted ad hominem attack against No Casino Gettysburg leaders Susan and Jim Paddock is wholly inaccurate – they placed a conservation easement on the property to prevent the construction of houses that would be visible from the battlefield. Again, this is an attempt to intentionally mislead the public.

NPS VISITATION FORMULA

According to the NPS November 2009 statement:

“The National Park Service has updated the formula used to estimate monthly and annual visitation to Gettysburg National Military Park. Retroactive to January 1, 2009, the park’s visitation estimates have been revised to use new people-per-vehicle numbers, resulting in a lower estimate of park visitation. The people-per-vehicle numbers are based on the results of a 12 month survey.”

This change in formula was a result of a new study and survey that found:

“A new person-per-vehicle multiplier of 2.4 for November through March; and 2.6 for April through October. Previously the park had been using a multiplier of 3.3 for November through March; and 4.0 for April through October.”

According to GNMP Chief Ranger Brion Fitzgerald, “This new visitation estimate will create a more accurate baseline and provide a better look at trends for the future.”

More Info: http://gettysblog.blogspot.com/2009/11/gettysburg-national-military-park.html

The good folks from the preservation organizations have wisely elected not to stoop to the same level in the gutter as the spinmeisters, and have sent the following letter

January 29, 2010

Mr. David LeVan
1094 Baltimore Pike
Gettysburg, Pennsylvania 17325

Mr. Jeff Klein
216 E. York St.
Biglerville, PA 17307

Dear Mr. LeVan and Mr. Klein,

In recent conversations you have had with members of the preservation community, you have deplored what you both described as the “misinformation” generated by the 2005-2006 Gettysburg Casino controversy, and expressed concern about the sometimes uncivil nature of that debate.

Local and nonresident members of the preservation community agree that this debate should be carried on by all parties in a civil and respectful manner. Our commitment is to provide our members, local decision-makers and the public with accurate information. This is particularly important because of the manner in which the previous Gettysburg Casino controversy divided citizens of Adams County. Keeping the debate civil and factual will help minimize the divisiveness that occurred during the previous controversy.

With this in mind, we would like to draw your attention to remarks by Mr. David La Torre, posted this morning on the Hanover Evening Sun website and in the Gettysburg Times. Mr. La Torre was either not privy to our conversations, or inadvertently made an inaccurate comment. He issued a statement that read: “To somehow suggest that there are enough jobs in Adams County when unemployment is now over 8 percent is ludicrous. It will be interesting to see how this message from these Harrisburg and Washington organizations will resonate with Adams County residents who are out of work and facing yearly tax increases.”

This is reminiscent of certain claims made by spokesmen for Chance Enterprises during the previous casino controversy that distorted our actual statements and written comments. We are committed to dealing professionally and courteously with you and your supporters, and after our recent conversations, we know you share our desire to avoid such misunderstandings.

Our letter (available for reference online at www.civilwar.org/aboutus/news/news-releases/2010-
news/assets/levan-casino-letter.pdf), which praised Mr. LeVan’s local philanthropic endeavors, at no point mentioned unemployment in Adams County, or the issue of jobs potentially created by any Gettysburg-area casino. Many of us also have friends and family deeply affected by the recession and would never minimize its impact.

Regarding jobs and this proposal, other casinos in Pennsylvania have made similar optimistic promises about job creation that have yet to be realized. Further, since the Eisenhower Resort is an existing amenity and no Category 3 facilities have yet opened, it is difficult to accurately project how many jobs will be created by casino operations over and above what already exist at the long established hotel.

Moreover, we have heard concerns expressed by a number of local small business owners who fear that the casino will relocate/divert existing jobs now based downtown, and dramatically hurt the business district of America’s most famous small town. Cost to taxpayers from traffic- and safety related projects and other predictable casino impacts also need to be analyzed by impartial experts.

Until such a nonpartisan, independent analysis is completed, the economic impact numbers remains speculative at best.

Finally, we note that in its rejection of the Crossroads application, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board specifically stated, “The Gettysburg area itself is primarily a rural area without large population centers nearby to sustain the casino, thus the emphasis on the market to the South. In theory, this strategy is appealing. However, during the licensing hearings, Gettysburg presented testimony that it was ‘virtually the same drive time away’ from the Baltimore/Washington D.C. market as Charlestown slots in West Virginia . . . [and] the Board was not presented with any credible evidence to demonstrate how much of that Charlestown business could be expected to leave that facility and travel north to Gettysburg.”

To reiterate, our commitment to you throughout this process is to maintain a civil, factual and respectful tone. We are hopeful that, despite today’s inflammatory statement issued to the media by Pro-Casino Adams County, you and your supporters will fulfill your pledge to do the same.

Sincerely,

James J. Campi
Policy and Communications Director
Civil War Preservation Trust

Joy M. Oakes
Director, Mid-Atlantic Region
National Parks Conservation Association

Walter W. Gallas, AICP
Director, Northeast Field Office
National Trust for Historic Preservation

Melinda G. Crawford
Executive Director
Preservation Pennsylvania

This letter amply spells out any and all necessary reasons why someone would and should oppose this casino.

Aside from the libeling of the preservation organizations involved in the fight against this blight on the battlefield, the motivations of these pro-casino hired gun spin doctors ought to be abundantly obvious. Their intentions are to intentionally mislead the reading public into believing that this casino–which has absolutely no business being placed on battlefield land–will be a good thing.

It’s not. Let’s be honest about it, and let’s use these lies to mobilize folks to oppose this blight.

Scridb filter

Comments

  1. Sun 31st Jan 2010 at 8:22 pm

    Great post Eric. It’s amazing what greed can lead to and these “people” are leading the way downward. I would expect more half truths and downright lies from them in the future. I understand trying to keep things civil but sometimes a liar needs to be called a liar and I think the various preservation groups have done a good job of this. A casino is certainly not the way to bring real jobs to this or any area. Any jobs created will be low paying dead end ones. Any of the higher paying positions will go to experienced casino workers who will be brought in from other places. The true costs of a casino will not be seen until it is too late. Increases in crime, needed infrastructure improvements, further legal proceedings when the owners try to expand their offerings, gambling addicitons, and more will tax those who live in the county (in more ways than one). Then there’s the issue of blight and the outright disrespect shown for the battlefield.

  2. Sun 31st Jan 2010 at 8:44 pm

    There’s also the point that because of the construction of the Rt. 15 bypass, the old Emmitsburg Road is two lanes wide at the Eisenhower Lodge site, and would not be able to handle the massive influx of traffic that a casino would bring. The road would have to be widened, and there would be a massive bottleneck at the southern end of the battlefield, which is NOT needed.

    Eric

  3. Terry
    Mon 01st Feb 2010 at 12:59 am

    Thank you, Eric, for gathering all these letters together in one spot for us.
    For LeVan and his folks to accuse the preservation societies of greed is very peculiar indeed.
    I agree with all of the anti-casino arguments here, and have also been quite worried about the aspect brought up in your last note, to wit, the Rt. 15 bottleneck problem.

    That road is fairly slow in the tourist season, because visitors, quite naturally, want to drive more slowly to see the battlefield’s landscapes and monuments along the Emmitsburg Road/Pickett-Pettigrew Charge area. Right now this is not a problem because everyone, including locals, understands why most folks are visiting. If the casino gets approved, I’m afraid that we might end up with a number of road rage incidents involving some of the people who would be coming only for the gambling, when they discover that they can’t get to points north without following the battlefield/cemetery visitors up to town.
    There seems to be no end of ways for bad feeling between the two sides to crop up.

  4. Thu 04th Feb 2010 at 11:57 am

    The bottom line is wrecking something truly special in order to invite in a morally dubious, mob-controlled industry in exhange for minimum-wage jobs.

    It was one thing in Deadwood, South Dakota, which was little more than a tourist trap to begin with. It’s another thing on sacred ground.

  5. Ed Fleming
    Sat 06th Feb 2010 at 3:04 am

    That old saw about creating jobs is utter nonsense, and creates the illusion that preservation is somehow opposed to local interest. And what is meant by “greed”? Oh yes, the fatcat preservationists, the ones that play war profiteers at living history events. Actually, why not create a Civil War -era casino? Games might include Faro, and Chuck-a-luck; period drinks, such as Brandy Smashes would add a whole new dimension to living history. I don’t mean to make light of a truly depressing scene: I’ve thought about this for a long time. I think Juson Kilpatrick’s ghost might actually attend.

  6. Ed Fleming
    Sat 06th Feb 2010 at 3:05 am

    That old saw about creating jobs is utter nonsense, and creates the illusion that preservation is somehow opposed to local interest. And what is meant by “greed”? Oh yes, the fatcat preservationists, the ones that play war profiteers at living history events. Actually, why not create a Civil War -era casino? Games might include Faro, and Chuck-a-luck; period drinks, such as Brandy Smashes would add a whole new dimension to living history. I don’t mean to make light of a truly depressing scene: I’ve thought about this for a long time. I think Judson Kilpatrick’s ghost might actually attend.

  7. Ed Fleming
    Sat 06th Feb 2010 at 3:10 am

    The fore-mentioned casino needn’t be sited anywhere near sacred ground. Atlanta, maybe.

  8. Tom Clemens
    Tue 09th Feb 2010 at 12:04 am

    Thanks Eric for getting the truth out to those of us who care. Typical tactic, when you don’t have a defense, attack. Who do they think they are, Sheridan?

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