NABR Statement to the PGCB in opposition to Sugarhouse Casino

Caryn Hunt of NABR testified on the organization's behalf at the PGCB hearing to extend Sugarhouse Casino's gaming license. Here is the transcript of her statement:

Neighbors Allied for the Best Riverfront (NABR)
Statement before PA Gaming Control Board 5-6-09
by Caryn Hunt

I'm here today to represent Neighbors Allied for the Best Riverfront (NABR), whose members live in all the river wards along the Delaware.

NABR is a member of the Central Delaware Advocacy Group, whose mission it is to see the Civic Vision for the Delaware, inspired by thousands of residents, embedded in the Master Plan. SugarHouse casino does not fit the core principles of this plan. It's massive, auto-centric, and inharmonious in its setting on the river. It's ugly. NABR also objects to the use of public land for their project.

NABR is also a member of the Philadelphia Neighborhood Alliance, a coalition group that supports resiting the casinos to bring jobs, bring benefits without cannibalizing residents, creating unsafe neighborhoods, and turning our streets into a parking lot. NABR believes casinos do not belong on the waterfront, nor do they belong in neighborhoods. SugarHouse is less than 200' from a residential street. People are trying to raise their families on those blocks.

NABR members came to this issue with high expectations about the democratic system they were taught to believe in. We have all felt sorely disappointed, and for good reason.

The people who live here have clearly, consistently and repetitively voiced their will in the matter, for years now, and, except for our district State legislators, Representative Mike O'Brien and Senator Larry Farnese, Harrisburg has acted in an autocratic manner, without regard for the genuine concerns of those thousands who live here whose daily lives and family lives will be forever altered. The State Supreme Court has twice interrupted this city in a matter of due diligence and democratic process to force the casinos' agenda. This body, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board, though a state agency of seven appointees, saw fit to file suit against Philadelphia citizens who lawfully placed a referendum concerning this issue on our ballot. And the Governor is deaf to his constituents, but apparently easily accessible to SugarHouse.

I attended the Gaming Conference in Harrisburg in February of 2007, and I heard with my own ears SugarHouse president Bob Sheldon tell the room a bunch of whoppers. He said he had the support of the neighborhoods. At that time, he hadn't signed any contract whatsoever, and to this day, SugarHouse still has no agreement with the two communities adjacent to their project, the communities that will be most deeply affected. He characterized the opposition to SugarHouse as a fringe minority, but the residents who live along the river overwhelmingly oppose the SugarHouse location. He characterized residents who live here- decent, regular folks, who have worked on a volunteer basis for years now- as in it for the money they were getting from outside sources.

When SugarHouse presented their project before the PGCB, they neglected to mention they didn't have site control. They neglected to mention that they did not have a cordial, or any, relationship with the adjacent civics. Their traffic study has been shown to be a fiction. They misrepresented their project from the beginning and they continue to hope they can sell this dream. But the reality is, at this location, it doesn't work.

Put SugarHouse somewhere reasonable, and we can all welcome the jobs and revenues. At this location it becomes a monument to all that Philadelphians have come out by the thousands and said they don't want on their river. It becomes a monument to a flawed process where casino operators can make up the rules they will live by as they go along.

Please deny their extension.