National Trust, Partners Speak Out Against New Gettysburg Casino Plan

Posted on: January 29th, 2010 by Walter Gallas 1 Comment

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.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

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One Response

  1. Matthew Jackson

    January 30, 2010

    I am a big fan of the National Trust, but as a native and resident of Hanover, Pennsylvania near Gettysburg and a frequent visitor to the battlefiled, i’m not sure that I agree with the rationale for opposing this project. Over the years, many commercial developments have occurred within 1/2 mile of the boundary of the battlefield. Has the Trust in the past ever officially opposed those projects, including gas stations, outlets, a motorcycle retailer, and other buildings that do not even pretend to add to the authenticity of place? Also, since the trust’s letter says that it is not opposed to gambling per se, if the 1/2 mile perimeter is the major rationale for opposition, how much distance would be preferable or acceptable to the trust in order to retain Gettysburg’s sense of place? 1 mile? 2 miles? 3? For the record, i think Gettysburg’s former town fathers many decades ago, probably through permissive zoning, struck a serious blow to the authenticity of place by allowing a McDonalds’ golden arches and other crass, modern structures downtown and within steps for where shots were fired. I wish that the preservation community was up in arms then.