Casino march and walk will precede council hearing Saturday

The Phillies’ victory parade won’t be the only procession in this city this weekend.

Casino-Free Philadelphia members and supporters will march Saturday morning from the Friendship Gate in Chinatown to City Hall where a public hearing will be held on legislation that would allow a casino to operate at The Gallery at Market East.

And Society Hill residents will meet at Independence Hall to walk to the hearing together.

The tenor of the two events is different: CasinoFree bills theirs as a “No Casino In the Heart of the City Rally”, while the Society Hill Civic Association invites neighbors to “Come for Saturday Morning Walk.”

But neither group is supportive of the legislation.

Society Hill walkers will meet at 6th and Chestnut at 8:30 a.m. An email to Civic Association members suggests that even those who can’t stay for the hearing should come for the walk, because “Local zoning that would fundamentally affect Society Hill and Center City deserves your attention — even on this important weekend just before our presidential election.”  The note also says it’s a good chance to meet neighbors and get exercise on a beautiful day.

Casino-Free marchers will meet at the gate – located at 10th and Arch – at 9 a.m.

“Join residents, workers, parents, students, and other concerned citizens from Chinatown and around the city to tell City Hall: No Casino in the Heart of Our City!” their press announcement reads.

The hearing begins at 10 a.m. in Room 400, council chambers.

The two pieces of legislation that will be discussed were proposed by Councilman Frank DiCicco. One would create a Commercial Entertainment District zoning classification – the category that allows a casino to operate. The second would map that classification onto The Gallery.

Critics think it’s a mistake to approve the zoning legislation before Foxwoods Casino – which is considering moving from its originally planned waterfront site to The Gallery – submits detailed plans and studies about the casino’s impact on the neighborhood.

But DiCicco and city officials say the zoning is a good faith effort to show Foxwoods the city will consider their proposal, and that there would be a long, public process before Council would make the final decision on whether or not Foxwoods can operate at The Gallery.

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

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