During the past ten years, Gettysburg had been under siege by casinos, potential big box development plans within park boundaries, suburban sprawl surrounding the town, and a diminished historic importance to generations to come if these projects are not stopped. Now a third casino project, to be located three miles south of the Gettysburg National Military Park is upon us. The fight has not stopped. It, in 2017, must be joined again to halt this change to the Gettysburg history landscape. Help in the battle to continue preserving the historic charm of Gettysburg for future generations. Photo above: Battle of Gettysburg, Camp Letterman hospital complex tents, August 1863. Courtesy Library of Congress.
Just last year, a potential Big Box Development Project arose to threaten the hallowed ground in the Camp Letterman area off Route 30 and adjacent to the restored Daniel Lady farm. Now this year, 2017, the third casino project has been proposed that would change the tenor of a Gettysburg vacation forever. Now is the time to marshal our forces again and defeat the Mason Dixon Casino and Racetrack, to be built three miles south. We can do this again, but need your help.
- New Casino Project 2017
- Big Box
- Potential Future Problems
2017 Casino Project
For the third time in a decade, the history of Gettysburg and the legacy of the area is under siege. The sacrifice of over one hundred and fifty thousand men who fought there, and the over fifty thousand men and women who lost their lives or were wounded in the cause, are about to be marginalized by a casino project proposed for three miles south. The Mason Dixon Casino and Racetrack in Freedom Township would change forever the rationale for visitation. Hotels and motels would spring up around the interchanges south of town along the Route 15 corridor; homes and strip malls would fill in the gaps between the casino and the park. Instead of like minded family oriented visitors at the continental breakfast at your Gettysburg vacation hotel, the guest next to you is a cigar chomping, can't wait to gamble Type A personality trying to get his latest must win fix.
So now, once again, it is time for the history crowd to stand up and fight for the legacy of Gettysburg. Don't allow David LeVan, for the third time's the charm effort, to build the Mason Dixon Casino near the park. We've warned that this was coming; we've urged the Pennsylvania legislature to place a ten mile buffer around the Gettysburg park, but they did not see this on the horizon. And don't let the propaganda of the proposal sway you in this effort. Yes, there is a casino next to Valley Forge, but the area of Valley Forge has been ruined by the shopping malls, high rise condominiums, and development that has changed that park from a pure history location to a recreation park. Don't let the word that it's okay to have a casino near Gettysburg, because there's one near history in Philadelphia. That's a metropolitan city. Keep Gettysburg for history. Generations of children to come need to know just how important this site is. Your help in defeating this proposal will show just how much you care about that.
There are currently two Petition efforts to convince the Freedom Township Commissioners to deny a zoning change that would allow the project to continue, as well as efforts to convince the Pennsylvania Gaming Board and Horse Racing Commission to deny. Add your name to the lists below.
No Casino Gettysburg Petition
National Park Conservation Association Petition
Watch the wonderful videos below put together by the No Casino Gettysburg and Civil War Preservation Trust coalition during the last round. It includes well known people who are against the casino idea, including Sam Waterston, Matthew Broderick, Ken Burns, and others. A second video by the same actors, all reciting the Gettysburg Address is also included.
Legacy Testimony Video
Gettysburg Address Video
No Casino Gettysburg Video
Stopping the Last Casino
Casino Project in Gettysburg Denied Again by PA Casino Board - On April 14, 2011, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board voted against the Gettysburg casino project and awarded the license to the Nemacolin resort south of Pittsburgh. The proposal had been to place a Casino in Gettysburg, this time just 1/2 mile from the southern end of the field on Emmitsburg Road, right along the Journey Through History. Spearheaded again by Gettysburg businessman David LeVan, this project was centered around the current Eisenhower Inn.
Yes, it's happening again. This time the large development project is a Big Box Retail complex over the remaining one hundred acres of Camp Letterman and the Confederate staging area for the battle of Culp's Hill. This land is directly north of the Daniel Lady farm on Route 116, between it and Lincoln Highway. While the project is still in its planning stages, this is the time to stop it, or the complex of retail and hotel establishments already there, i.e. Giant and the hotel chains, will take over the entire viewshed from the northern end of the park, and remove the historic landscape where thousands of soldiers trod, and were later cared for.
So, how can you help? Join with the Gettysburg Battlefield Preservation Association and other national organizations that are organizing to save this land. The developer is said to be open to selling for preservation, but at a high price rumored to be $8 million. Sign their petition. Call the local Straban Township office and tell them what you think. This is all happening fast, May 2016, and while the project is in its beginning phase, to stop it from happening requires prompt action. Think about the possibility of losing this ground forever. Think about the better possibility of interpreting this land for the history generations to come, both about the battle for Culp's Hill itself, and for the post battle hospital complex Camp Letterman. That would be the better outcome. Help make that happen.
Above photo: United States Christian Commission in August 1863. Below: A group of soldiers in front of the woods at the Camp Letterman hostpital. Photos courtesy Library of Congress.
What Could Happen if these Proposals Are Not Stopped
Developers Continue to Gobble up Land Within Park Boundaries and Surrounding the Park
Traffic becomes congested, commercial malls string along the the roadways, mile after mile after mile. The rationale for coming to or even living in Gettysburg is no longer predicated on its past, in fact, its not predicated on its present either, just another excuse to commute to work in the more important locations, i.e. Harrisburg and Baltimore.
Gettysburg National Military Park now becomes another Valley Forge, surrounded by office towers, highways, and homes, and now more of a recreation park than a historic park for most visitors.
It becomes another Manassas, with rampant development knocking at its doors from all directions. It becomes another Fredericksburg, a town with tons of history, but with a highway that is more important, and land that is no longer indicative of the history from its past, but another excuse for commercial development. Don't think that's true, try to envision the charge at Marye's Heights compared to that at Pickett's Charge. And we won't even get into the Battle of Franklin.
And it loses out on commerce. Even in its bad years, Gettysburg still draws between 1 and 2 million visitors per year for its charm and history. In good economic times, it draws between 2 and 3 million. Do we really think this will increase with casino gambling and more residential and commercial devlopment?
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