October 30, 2010

Maine Voices: The value of a racino in Biddeford can be measured in taxes, jobs

By TOM WALSH

A recent Press Herald editorial opposing a racino in Biddeford was long on opinion but short on the facts and incorrect in a number of assertions.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tom Walsh
is a founder and president, Ocean Properties, a partner in the proposed Biddeford racino.

People should always be skeptical of individuals who write an opinion on an important matter without even taking the time to visit the city in question.

I will not go into each item in dispute. Rather, with facts, I will attempt to help you draw your own conclusions before Tuesday's vote.

The proposed project would include a hotel, entertainment complex, a racetrack and slot machines. The developers of this project want Biddeford to be a destination for tourists and not a drive by on Interstate 95.

The development is expected to put more than $5 million a year into city coffers to help pay for any number of items so dearly needed in Biddeford.

Biddeford Downs will be the only harness racing/racino complex that is all-inclusive. Unlike Bangor, where the track is a half-mile away, Biddeford Downs will be incorporating all aspects of the development as an integrated resort.

It will create 500 full-time jobs in the community with an average salary of $35,000 annually with benefits. Up to 50 of those jobs will be in management.

These jobs will be filled by your friends and neighbors in Biddeford. How many people know of that friend, relative or neighbor looking for any good job right now?

Bangor recently used the money from Hollywood slots to renovate their convention center without any additional burden to the taxpayers in the city. What could Biddeford use that money for ? Schools? Fire stations? Waterfront walkways to help revitalize downtown?

Opponents try to create confusion and scare tactics. The most prominent scare tactic being that often misquoted argument about crime. The police chief of Bangor has repeatedly stated that for 2010, crime is down 17 percent in Bangor.

An important thing to know is that your "yes" vote on Tuesday only allows the opportunity for this development to continue through the normal process. The town council and all the development boards will need to approve this project over repeated meetings with public debate and input.

If you have a family member needing a job, you need to vote "yes" to give them a chance to have a job. Vote "yes" for opportunity on Tuesday.

- Special to The Press Herald

 

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