Wareham residents will decide whether to allow casino

Sep 8, 2019

To the Editor:

In regard to the NOTOS’s Groups proposed casino, horse track and hotel complex, I have been hearing comments from my friends and neighbors, reading comments in our local papers and their online editions, and reading the social media sites. Many of these comments imply that the local government leaders of Wareham have the authority to approve this project and that the citizens won’t have a say in the matter.  

This couldn’t be further from the truth. If this complex is to become a reality, many things have to occur. The Massachusetts legislature must pass legislation, specifically Bill HD.4467, the Gaming Commission must award a class 2 license to the NOTOS Group, and a route 25 interchange must be approved. But most importantly, if those events all do occur, then Wareham citizens must go to a town meeting and vote to approval local zoning changes, and then go to a town election and vote to approve the gaming license.  

The bottom line is that the citizens of Wareham will make the final decision on an entertainment complex in Wareham. No one else.  

I personally believe that this project, if done correctly, has the potential to have a positive impact on the town of Wareham, including a new revenue stream that could approach 10% of our town’s 2019 budget. The task at hand is to ensure that the project is done correctly. It is the job of myself and all local government leaders to ask the questions, drive the solutions, and share the details as to how this project addresses issues such as traffic, the environment, labor and wages, property values, crime rates, impact upon town resources, and incremental town revenue. These details must be accurate, easily available and clearly understood if Wareham voters are to make an informed decision.

Unfortunately, data and facts are getting harder to get these days, with our usual sources too often presenting opinion disguised as fact. Social media provides a great platform for opinion, but too often it is interpreted as reality. It is my goal that public hearings, workshops, and meetings will provide the necessary factual data we need. It will be a challenge for all of us to sort through the noise and focus on the facts so that informed decisions can be made.  

Richard Swenson

Associate Planning Board Member, and Member-at-large of the Redevelopment Authority