Since its public protest against the $1 billion proposal to build a casino at Suffolk Downs earlier this month, the No Eastie Casino grassroots group has seen a swell of support. On their David and Goliath plight, the group has been educating on-the-fence residents of the undesirable realities a casino would mean for the city of Everett.
They discussed most of them last night during a meeting held at the East Boston Social Center. Key members of the No Eastie Casino group facilitated an informative and straightforward discussion where concerns were aired. The room was full of more than 50 supporters, fervor, and promise.
“We’re not trying to buy your vote, we’re just trying to educate you,” said member Brian Gannon, who believes placing a casino in East Boston would negatively impact the community aspect the city prides itself on.
Another member of the group No Eastie Casino and active community events organizer, Celeste Myers, voiced her qualms about the casino threatening the current way of life. But everyone agreed that the biggest problem would be traffic.
“They’re pledging to improve access, but it’s only to the casino. The back roads of the casino are our main roads,” said Myers.
Other concerns included crime, pollution, job placement and a direct threat to mom and pop-style shops and restaurants.
“They’re touting 4,000 jobs, but the job promise is inflated. And the jobs they’re promising are hospitality-based, and those salaries are hardly enough to live on,” Myers said, arguing that minimum wage jobs are not the type of quality employment that Eastie residents deserve.
“I’m concerned about our favorite restaurants. We all have our restaurants and places we love to go, and they’re struggling,” chimed Gannon. “This neighbor’s been overburdened by so many other things, we don’t need a casino,” he added, referring to the tunnels, drawbridges and airport that currently congest the area.
“Each slot machine brings in millions of dollars a year, but it’s not new money. It will come from our community,” stressed Myers. The current design plan of the casino includes 4-5,ooo slot machines.
The crowd became angered at the mention of politicians in support of the casino, their support viewed as a “hard sell” to the community. But they are hoping that as plans continue the questions that have been left unanswered won’t go unnoticed.
“There’s power in numbers, and that’s where the energy needs to go,” an East Boston resident voiced. True, the community does have a say, but what about the residents who do support the casino?
Some East Boston residents believe that bringing a casino to East Boston will stimulate the local economy and attract people to the area. Still in the beginning stages, the only certainty is that the effects a casino will have on East Boston won’t be known until it comes to fruition. Supporters or not, residents are already gambling.