2014-10-30 / Community Blog

Not Too Convincing

To the Editor:

In a recent interview, the responses from the developer of the Newport Grand project did not seem to help me understand, much less embrace, his proposal.  Trying to decide how to vote on Question 1, the application of simple logic to all the circumstances and claims in this regrettably confusing controversy seems fruitless.

Regarding the promise of jobs, I ask myself which would be better for Newport- a handful of mostly service-oriented jobs, or many hundreds of career-oriented high tech and support jobs that a publicly formed project like the Innovation Hub would generate.  I think the latter.   

Regarding a casino’s effect on my home property in the adjoining neighborhood, again I’d choose the Innovation Hub.  Unless, of course, the casino developer is offering to make up the loss to me and my neighbors if property values drop as they have in Atlantic City, Ledyard, Conn., and other communities ruined by the casino craze.  

As for crime and social problems, being that I’m not a drug counselor or social worker, I don’t see any increase in career opportunities for myself with the casino a few blocks away.  You can ask the folks in the aforementioned host communities what it’s like.

When asked about the irony of promoting a venture (gambling) that he otherwise would have no particular personal interest in, he responds that to him “it’s just a business.”   Regarding the issue of casinos strategically competing with local businesses, he simply says that he would patronize a local restaurant when visiting a casino, and suggests others would likely do so.  So far, not too convincing.  He makes sure to point out that Newport Grand would not be like the other big casinos.  But -- that it will also need to have additional major entertainment activities to make it viable.  So, like the other big casinos, I guess.  

Finally, when probed on whether he and his current partners would remain with the project or sell to a third party, he replies that he “intends” to stay, but that “nothing is forever.”   So now I’m really confused, after being told that he likes his projects to be for the betterment of the community.  Newport would have absolutely no idea who or what they will be dealing with down the line. Can you imagine the Innovation Hub development panel stating that they may or may not be around after a few years?  The likely scenario is a resource-rich mega corporation that will play with the community the way a cat plays with a mouse before killing it.

I’m sure the developer will understand when I vote NO on Question 1.  After all, to me it’s just a business: the business of living in a community.

Jon Dember


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