Foxborough residents protest a casino
FOXBOROUGH - The anticasino drumbeat escalated yesterday in Foxborough and neighboring communities, as organizers staged a protest on the town common, promoted two new websites to marshal their forces, and collected signatures to oppose a Las Vegas-style resort being considered for the town.
We will fight against this with every fiber of our being, said Stephanie Crimmins, a Foxborough mother of two who addressed the morning rally of about 200 protesters on the common. This will fundamentally impact the town for generations to come.
The crowd, holding signs with slogans such as No Fox-Vegas and Foxboro Says No Dice, applauded Crimmins and waved at motorists who honked their horns in support.
Crimmins, 40, a corporate executive for Panera Bread, said the grass-roots opposition has been working nonstop since the news broke last week that New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft and Las Vegas casino mogul Steve Wynn have been discussing a deal to build a casino resort on Kraft-owned land across Route 1 from Gillette Stadium.
We want to get out there early, Crimmins said. We need to find a way to say, No, we are not going to let it happen.
Wynn is expected to be Krafts guest today at Gillette Stadium when the Patriots play the Indianapolis Colts. Under the plan being discussed, Wynn would lease the land from Kraft and build a casino complex that could result in 10,000 construction jobs and 8,000 permanent jobs.
Foxborough Selectwoman Lorraine Brue, who attended the rally, said she has received a wave of negative reaction to such a project.
The feedback Ive been getting from the community . . . has been vehemently opposed to this, Brue said.
Brue said she wants public discussion to begin soon, perhaps in a meeting held at the high school before the end of the month. A zoning change to allow a casino would require two-thirds approval in a Town Meeting vote, Foxborough officials said.
As a citizen, Im opposed to this, Brue said. Im concerned about the impact on property values, the impact on public safety, the traffic impact, the wear and tear on the roads.
John Davey, a 45-year-old lawyer with five children, said a historically good relationship between the town and Kraft would venture into unwanted territory with a casino.
If a casino goes up, there will be some For Sale signs going up in my neighborhood, Davey said. Im concerned about property values declining in the shadow of a stadium.
John Murtagh, a Planning Board member from adjoining Walpole, was at the rally and said his towns five-member panel is unanimously opposed to a casino on Route 1.
Its going to absolutely devastate the town, Murtagh said of a major casinos impact on Walpole. All of our roads are going to be like parking lots.
Murtagh said he feels deceived by Kraft.
We had no idea this was coming. We love the Patriots and Tom Brady, but if we are going to have this seven days a week . . . Murtagh said, stopping in mid-sentence. As it is, I cant get out of my house and go to church on Sunday if theres a game.
Although the crowd on the common appeared overwhelmingly opposed to a casino, a few proponents gave a thumbs-up at a coffee shop in the Foxborough Plaza.
I feel great about it. Im all for it, said Pat Cabalieri, 76, who lives in Foxborough. Youve got crime now, right? Its not going to bring more crime. Its going to bring a lot of jobs.
Lorraine Doherty, 67, also of Foxborough, flashed a wide smile when asked if she approves of a casino. I like the excitement of it, she said.
Kenneth Kirby, 64, who grew up in Foxborough and lives in Brockton, said he has mixed feelings. Are the people who come going to stay and spend their money here? No, he said.
Two sites that have been created to oppose a casino - Say No to Foxboro Casino on Facebook and www.no-fox-vegas.com - have become a virtual gathering places for opponents. The websites list the negative effects, ranging from crime to child neglect, that its organizers say would accompany a casino.
The next Planning Board meeting is scheduled for Thursday. One of its members, Bill Grieder, leaned against a building across from the common yesterday morning to watch the rally.
When asked his opinion, Grieder was noncommittal.
I think its going to be an interesting process, Grieder said dryly.
Nodding at the protesters, he added, These are our neighbors, and youve got to listen to them.
Brian MacQuarrie can be reached at email@example.com.