Anti-casino groups in Philly may step up resistance
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HARRISBURG -- Casino-Free Philadelphia, a citizens group that strongly opposes the sites for both casinos to be built in Philadelphia, may be getting physical.
The group plans to conduct a "training session'' on Saturday in Philadelphia that's designed "to teach community members how to occupy the proposed casino sites in the event the casinos try to break ground.''
In a news release today, the group added, "We will practice blockade techniques, such as chaining ourselves to the fence'' around each site.
One casino, to be called SugarHouse, wants to build on a site along the Delaware River about two miles north of Center City, the city's downtown area. The other casino, Foxwoods, wants to build along the river a couple miles south of Center City.
The two casinos "claim they are close to building and that they don't intend on moving anywhere, no matter how nicely (city officials) ask,'' the anti-casino group said. "As the casinos are preparing to move ahead, we are preparing to stop them.''
Casino-Free Philadelphia maintains that both casino sites are too close to nearby neighborhoods, with homes, schools and places of worship. The protestors, along with some state legislators and local politicians, are trying to get the casinos to find new locations, perhaps at Philadelphia International Airport.
But the casinos said they were properly and legally sited by the state Gaming Control Board, as the 2004 slots law calls for, and say that citizens and city officials can't force them to move. Gov. Ed Rendell has bemoaned the delay in getting those two casinos built and open for business because it's keeping Pennsylvania homeowners from getting the full property tax reductions that casino revenues make possible.
Maureen Garrity, a spokeswoman for the Foxwoods casino, said, "We certainly respect Casino-Free Philadelphia's freedom of speech and right to demonstrate, but we do insist that they respect our private property."
First Published August 6, 2008 2:44 pm