Andover Townsman, Andover, MA


August 15, 2013

Town bracing for vote on slots

Crime, traffic top concerns as Tewksbury casino faces first test


But it’s not only abutters concerned about the potential impact of a slots casino.

Rose Titus lives on Fiske Street — a couple miles from where the casino is being proposed — and she worries about what it might do to her neighborhood as well.

“It’s a nice neighborhood for people to take walks, say hi to their neighbors,” she said. “I feel safe in the neighborhood, at this point in time.”

Like Wallingford, Titus is worried about the casino customers, and what they’ll bring if the casino wins approval to lure around-the-clock activity to the Merrimack Valley.

“You’re going to have a lot of people coming from outside of town and surrounding towns to visit the casino,” she said. “They’ll be drinking, then they’ll get in their cars.

“The people who live near here, they don’t feel good about it.”

But Penn National Gaming, the company proposing the casino, says residents should not be worried about crime.

“In Bangor, Maine, the biggest call the police chief gets from (the Penn casino in the area) is people locking their keys in the car,” Jeff Morris, director of Public Affairs for Penn, said. “We see crime decrease in all our jurisdictions. Bangor has seen a considerable decrease. You see the same in Toledo .... Same thing in Charlestown, W.V.; Grantville, Pa.”

Aside from crime, the other big concern facing the casino proposal is traffic. At a recent Board of Selectmen’s meeting, Larchmont Circle resident Bill Westaway highlighted some of the traffic implications facing Andover if the casino is built.

“We’re getting traffic jams at 5 o’clock,” he said. “There’s no way you can get through there, and the reason you can’t get through there is, essentially, the access to (Routes) 93 and 495 are totally screwed up. That’s being generous.”

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