Pennsylvania lawmakers are no different from their counterparts in other states, who see gambling and casinos as a solution to their economic woes. Earlier this month in Pennsylvania, casinos became an even more attractive business to be in, when Governor Rendell signed into law a bill which added table games to the mix of what an establishment could offer its customers.
Now, a developer is proposing to introduce a casino not more than a half mile from the boundary of the Gettysburg National Military Park, a place for somber remembrance of the American Civil War. More soldiers died here than in any other battle fought in North America before or since. About four years ago, a casino proposal by the same developer at another Gettysburg location was rejected by the state Gaming and Control Board.
This week, a coalition of organizations including the National Trust for Historic Preservation; the Civil War Preservation Trust; the National Parks Conservation Association; and statewide partner, Preservation Pennsylvania announced its opposition to this latest plan.
Development plans must respect the Gettysburg battlefield and all that it represents to our national memory. Heritage tourism can thrive when a destination offers authenticity of place and experience. Communities are enhanced when land uses are appropriately planned. This proposal fails on any of those dimensions.
Walter W. Gallas, AICP, is the director of the National Trust for Historic Preservation's Northeast Field Office.