Question 3 is going to fail. Jesus might be pissed, but the rest of us understand that none of the casinos in neighboring states are planning to close if we vote yes on 3, and so we will make the best of the situation we’ve been given and try to harness some of that $1,000,000,000.00 Massachusetts residents spend at out of state casinos here from now on. Kudos to the people who crafted the legislation, which set a floor of $500,000,000.00 in investment from gaming companies to even get in the door, and ended up getting commitments to much more than that in each case.
Critics of the law keep attacking straw men claiming that the approved projects fail the “wow” test. The MGM plan is absolutely revolutionary for a casino: “Inside out” new urbanism with a residential component and off campus entertainment venues. Bottom line, the MGM plan brings to the downtown EVERYTHING it was missing. As a resident of downtown since the late 1980’s I can say unequivocally that the combination of movie theaters, retail, market rate housing and a commitment to bring in more entertainment would have been “the wish list”. Add to that improvements to Da Vinci Park and the riverfront, an open air farmers’ market in season, outdoor skating in winter, the re-establishment of a downtown trolley (Remember “The 10 Center”?) and commitments to connect to the new Union Station and I am “wowed” beyond what I believed to be my capacity to be wowed.
If you’re not, perhaps you should stay in your leafy green, lily-white, energy wasting, car-centered, boring as hell suburban wasteland…no offense.
Interestingly, to me anyway, if question 3 were to pass I would do my best to make that decision the right decision. I would try to use other means to bring my community to life. I’m a firm believer in accepting reality, and in altering behavior based on the outcomes of experiment and experience. My position is not dogmatic. I speak today what today thinks, all the while remembering that a foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds and ideologues. If 5 years from now, or 10, Springfield is the only mid size northeastern city to have NOT experienced a rebirth and the major difference seems to have been “the corrupting influence of casino gambling” (“Oh, yes we got trouble, right here in River city, with a capital T, and that rhymes with G, and that stands for gambling!”) then I will admit the error of my ways and genuflect before the superior understanding of the amalgamation of granola-crunching (Upper Valley) do-gooders (who never met a Springfield issue they couldn’t opine on…from a safe distance) and the people who bring you belief in an invisible sky-daddy who have supported question 3.
Will they admit they were wrong if the MGM plan succeeds?
No one thinks that this development will turn the city around all by itself. At best MGM will give Springfield a window of opportunity to leverage this moment to create the critical mass we need to turn this city all the way around. It is a great place with “great bones”, an astounding array of cultural amenities, amazing institutions, a diverse population, quality homes, and neighborhood after neighborhood of restorable, traditional, walkable design.
Make this work. Prove me wrong by NOT being dogmatic. Make Tuesday’s decision the right decision whatever decision is made as I intend to do. Keep faith with your community by vowing to make it better, don’t run away from it. I saw one “Yes on 3” sign on Longhill Street in Springfield last week, surrounded by “No on 3” signs, but it was the only one accompanied by a “For Sale” sign. Coincidence? Maybe. I have one acquaintance, a “Facebook friend” who is passionately anti-MGM, and she has sworn to sell her home and move her family out of town if the casino comes to the city. Call it cutting and running, call it self-fulfilling prophecy, call it what you will but it shows the maturity level of a spoiled child threatening to take her ball and go home.
Be better than that. When you care for something, you work to make it succeed. I love my hometown, and I intend to fight to make it better every day of my life or die trying. Of course, that just means I’ll end up doing both.