Philadelphia, (February 20) – 15 civic organizations, stretching from Pennsport and Whitman in the south to Kensington and Port Richmond in the north, today announced the formation of the Delaware River Neighborhood Alliance (DRNA) to address the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board’s decision to license two Category II slot machine facilities along the Delaware River.
Reflecting widespread opposition to the siting decision and serious concerns about the licensing process, the organizations, which serve more than 200,000 Philadelphia residents, have united to preserve the quality of life of their neighborhoods.
The DRNA has declared a moratorium on negotiations with casino operators while it pursues multiple avenues of action to protect its member communities. DRNA member groups have pledged to work cooperatively, maintain open lines of communication, and act in concert on casino-related issues with each other.
The DRNA has sent a letter to Mayor John Street and all members of City Council urging the City of Philadelphia to cease discussions with casino operators. The DRNA also has sent letters to city and state legislators urging them to support pending legislation that would give the city’s residents the right to decide on the legalization of gambling in Philadelphia, and that would authorize public hearings on, and a legal appeal of, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board’s licensing decision-making process.
“Casinos are the largest development projects in the history of Pennsylvania,” said Tania Rorke, President of Society Hill Civic Association. “Their social, economic and traffic impacts will be enormous, and the public has not had a meaningful say on these crucial issues.”
Alliance members recognized efforts undertaken on their behalf by members of City Council and the Pennsylvania General Assembly, but said more needs to be done. “We cannot hope to protect our neighborhoods without the help of all our elected officials, including the Mayor,” said Herb Shallcross, President of Fishtown Neighbors Association. “The licensing process has been poorly planned and poorly executed, and our City needs to work in partnership with us to properly represent our needs and priorities.”
Rene Goodwin, Pennsport Civic Association, explained that the future of Philadelphia may hang in the balance. “Residential communities, neighborhood commercial corridors, our highway system, our port economy, and our waterfront are treasures, and we can’t afford to see them harmed by bad development. We’re standing up for our way of life, and our elected officials have a duty to do the same.”