PNA unveils slots related billboard

Photo courtesy KYW-1060  

  On Thursday, the Philadelphia  Neighborhood Alliance unveiled a billboard designed to garner more support for moving Philadelphia’s two planned casinos off of the Delaware Riverfront.

  The billboard, at 1430 Frankford Avenue – the intersection of Frankford and Belgrade Street, says: “Get jobs fast. Move slots now.”

  The message ties in to the sentiment that the quickest way to get the casinos up and running – and bring the jobs and tax relief that many who support casinos are counting on – is to move them from their current locations, where they have faced much opposition from neighborhood activists and some elected officials.

  This feeling is what convinced Gov. Ed Rendell, a casino proponent, to call for relocation.

  PNA, a coalition of 27 neighborhood organizations, has not traditionally focused on the job prospects. Members fear the casinos would increase traffic and other problems in their neighborhoods.

  “The more that we have learned about the effects of casinos and gambling in close proximity to neighborhoods, the more we have worked to achieve a satisfactory resolution of this problem,” said Jeff Rush, a PNA member and president of the Queen Village Neighbors Association, in a written statement. “The sooner they find good sites, the sooner jobs will be created and revenue streams will begin.”

  One of the casinos, Foxwoods, is now considering a different site. Instead of building on Columbus Boulevard in South Philadelphia, it may move to The Gallery at Market East.  This has some neighborhood activists from nearby Chinatown very concerned.

  PNA spokeswoman Rene Goodwin said the billboard has been in the planning stage for months – long before The Gallery was named as an alternate site.

  PNA is pleased that there has been movement, and that “Foxwoods developers have expressed a willingness to reconsider re-siting,” Goodwin said. PNA hopes for the same from SugarHouse Casino, whose officials have said they are willing to talk to elected officials about re-siting, but they do not believe it is a viable option.

  PNA is not taking a position on The Gallery site, Goodwin said. “It’s too new, but we reserve the right to take a position later,” she said.

  PNA will take the lead from the neighborhoods around The Gallery, Goodwin said.  PNA has been in contact with leaders there, and they told PNA they still want more information from Foxwoods and the city before taking an official position, Goodwin said.

  PNA members and supporters and elected officials will unveil the billboard Thursday at 1 p.m.

  “PNA is not anti-casino,” said Debbie King, PNA member and Vice President of the Northern Liberties Neighbors Association, in a written statement. “We are pro jobs and pro good development.  “We want to find the best sites for these slots parlors.”

  Posted by Kellie Patrick Gates. Contact her at kelliespatrick@gmail.com

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