Recent meetings involving those for and against casino development in East Boston have yielded few surprises. One surprise, however, is the lack of fury against a casino development here although there are many voices against a casino. And by the same token, those for a casino development are not running around the neighborhood shouting about it, either.
What does this prove?
We believe it shows that there is a wide diversity of opinion about whether or not a casino is welcome here and will be OK’d here by voters when the referendum finally takes place.
We also know from watching attendance at the various meetings and by noting who comes – and more importantly – who does not, and by paying close attention to what is said at the meetings being careful to weigh and measure the intensity of the meetings that the casino issue is indeed a local debate but it doesn’t come close to the tenor of the fight against the expansion of Logan Airport when residents of the former Neptune Road neighborhood were willing to be run over by bulldozers and trucks rather than watch their neighborhood erased by the wrecker’s ball.
Our sense is that majority of people who will come out to vote will vote affirmatively for a casino at Suffolk Downs – but not until they know exactly what this neighborhood is going to receive in the trade.
So far, Suffolk Downs officials have made certain promises that appear likely to be met.
The Boardman Street flyover is a big boost for those who feel East Boston is being inundated with traffic that no one in a position of responsibility is willing to mitigate.
But it will take more than this to persuade the neighborhood that it will be worth it to allow a casino to locate at Suffolk Downs.
Again, this is the first time East Boston is getting the right to vote on an issue of importance in this neighborhood in its long history.
No such votes were taken about airport expansion, tunnel diggings or of commercial developments that have altered East Boston forever.
Not so anymore.
Soon, there will be a referendum here to determine whether or not a casino is wanted at Suffolk Downs.
Those who will vote are for and against – and there is apparently a large number of people undecided.
Suffolk officials and opposition figures are right now trying to pinpoint who exactly will vote and who needs to be prodded to vote.
Whether or not there is a casino here will depend on that vote.
Obviously, it is a very important vote.