Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

August 22, 2013

Tewksbury deserves credit for preserving town


The Andover Townsman

---- — Give Tewksbury residents some credit. It couldn’t have been easy leaving all the chips on the table — to the tune of more than $4 million — and walking away from Penn National Gaming’s financial incentives in exchange for building a $200 million slots casino in town.

But that’s what they did — overwhelmingly — by rejecting a rezoning proposal for the casino project Tuesday night by a 1,568-995 vote.

True, Penn National was able to garner a lot of support from Tewksbury residents who saw a casino as a way to solve fiscal woes in town and take some of the tax burden off property owners.

But in the end, residents valued the character of their town too much to risk having a casino alter the face of it. And not even an 11th-hour visit to Tewksbury by football star Doug Flutie, who had signed on to build a restaurant at the proposed Merrimack Valley Casino, could get them to change their minds.

While bordering Andover residents didn’t have a say in the matter, they, too, breathed easier when the final votes were counted, relieved that their quaint suburban neighborhood — and their property values — would not be harmed.

Although they were able to send Penn National packing, residents at the Andover-Tewksbury line shouldn’t grow too comfortable in enjoying a 30-acre expanse of land around Ames Pond. Penn National saw value in the property. The site has been eyed for development in the past. And it’s likely the added attention the site has received in recent weeks will lead to more interest from would-be developers in the not-too-distant future.

But we don’t suspect a casino will be eyeing Tewksbury or Andover anytime soon. A Penn National representative says the company will now “go back and regroup.”

“Our involvement in Tewksbury ended tonight in a very loud and clear decision by the voters,” a vice president of public affairs for the gaming company said following Tuesday’s vote.

And for that, Tewksbury residents should stand proud for demonstrating the power of their convictions.

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Cheers to the India Association of Greater Boston, which chose Andover to be the site of its annual India Day celebration.

India Day marks the anniversary of India’s independence from British colonial rule. The India Association has for more than two decades held the annual celebration at the Esplanade’s Hatch Memorial Shell in Boston.

But this year, in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombing, security costs around Boston landmarks have skyrocketed.

This year’s celebration had been scheduled for Aug. 18, but the event was cancelled after the cost of the event exceeded $20,000, India Association Director Zehra Khan told reporter Dustin Luca.

The organization found a replacement venue in Andover High’s Collins Center. The event will be held Sunday, Sept. 8 from 4 to 8 p.m.

Andover is an ideal location offering easy access from Interstates 93 and 495. The India Day celebration draws participants from across New England. The four-hour program features Indian classical songs, dances, folk dances and vendor tables.

“They come not just from the Boston area, but I’ve met people coming in from New Hampshire, Connecticut, Rhode Island. People do come from far and wide,” Khan said. “This is the first time we’ve had the event outside of the Hatch Shell in many years.”

We welcome the India Association of Greater Boston and the India Day celebration to Andover and hope participants find their experience here an enjoyable one.