Hi CG3 friends,
Tonight's Planning Board meeting is your opportunity to be heard on two important items:
Sanborn's proposed casino complex plan (see the My Turn below), and
The re-opening of the abandoned Gulf gas station across from Concord High School (see the My Turn below).
YOUR voice matters!
Take these 2 actions:
SIGN THE CASINO PETITION RIGHT NOW! So we can take all your signatures and comments to the Board tonight! Please encourage others to do so too!
SHOW UP & TESTIFY TONIGHT at the Planning Board Public Hearing 7pm at City Chambers
Unable to attend?
SIGN THE PETITION RIGHT NOW!
Spread the word and encourage others to take action too!
Together, we can stop predatory development that is betting on the Concord community’s ambivalence towards development on our east side. And, we can create a safer intersection at the High School for our youth and fellow community members.
SANBORN'S CASINO COMPLEX
High-Stakes Game Is A Bad Bet for Concord
Judith Kurtz & Meredith Cooley of Concord are both members of Concord Greenspace (CG3)
Former State Senator Andy Sanborn (owner of The Draft Sports Bar & Grill & Casino) has plans to build a new 43,000-square-foot casino complex (almost the size of a football field) on the east side of our city. Many Concord residents showed up at the Planning Board meeting on January 18th to express deep concerns regarding the casino development. Like them, we oppose the casino complex on multiple fronts. We urge the Planning Board to slow down and ask questions to assess how a development of this size and nature will impact the surrounding community, public safety, and Concord’s public resources.
There is significant evidence that Concord will likely see an increase in alcohol-related fatal traffic accidents with this casino plan, and we are concerned about the additional police resources that the proposed casino may require. We requested the police records for all “calls to service” in and around both the Draft (Sanborn’s existing establishment with a casino) and Buffalo Wild Wings (a comparable establishment with no casino). From 2018 to 2022, there were 131 total calls to service from the Draft with 61 of a criminal/assault nature versus 114 overall calls from Buffalo Wild Wings with 37 of those calls being of a criminal/assault nature. That’s almost twice as many serious incident calls to The Draft, which is a far smaller establishment. Additionally, these records end before the latest two police involved incidents at The Draft: 1) a patron flashing a gun on 10/27/22 and 2) a fight with fugitive arrest on 1/22/23. Time should be taken to further review police reports, including those from similar casinos in neighboring towns (Belmont and Manchester).
From an equitable development perspective, we oppose this project because we believe it will have a net negative impact on the Heights, an already underserved area of the city. Sanborn touts job creation, but the jobs created by this project will be mostly minimum wage and lower-skilled jobs. These kinds of jobs do not help raise people out of poverty, nor do they provide transferable skills for when the casino slows down, as research shows it will over time. In addition, Concord has a tight labor market that has resulted in already well-established, local businesses struggling to keep their doors open for full business hours due to lack of staff.
Furthermore, the expansion of highly taxed gambling activities also raises equity issues, since the revenues come largely from low and moderate income households. Not to mention that a casino may scare away more desirable development and will likely decrease residential property values in nearby neighborhoods at a time when the city is working tirelessly to push through the new form-based zoning code that will help revitalize the Heights and other areas of Concord.
From a sustainable development perspective, the casino project will use undeveloped land instead of infilling existing commercial areas and utilizing established city infrastructure. So far, there has not been a review of the impact to traffic, sidewalk sufficiency, and the area wetlands. Why create new asphalt, disturb raw land and the urban canopy when other commercial buildings sit empty throughout the city?
While the Board reviews police calls, we also ask them to request a market analysis. Concord is considered to be a “saturated market” by those in the commercial gaming field. Where exactly is the population Sanborn is expecting to patronize this huge casino complex? The risks posed by a new casino in a saturated market include: diminishing Casino-related property tax revenue for Concord, a failed business that becomes a burden to the city, and another abandoned building where there was once open space.
What can be done? Many of us heard at the meeting last month that the casino project as currently proposed meets current zoning requirements, which is why the Planning Board’s hands appear to be tied. As of the publishing of this article, this project will NOT be going before Concord City Council. If the Planning Board won’t block the construction of a monster casino complex that will burden our police force and forever negatively define the character of our city, we ask the City Council to consider this application. This situation calls for a deeper discussion around our zoning, master plan, and the process through which our community can protect and promote the character of our city.
In the meantime, let’s never doubt the power of our voices in moving mountains. Together, we can stop predatory development that is betting on the Concord community’s ambivalence towards development on our east side. Be heard at the Planning Board Public Hearing on Feb 15th 7pm City Chambers. You can also write the Planning Board & City Council.
Take the foot off the gas!
Susan Woods & Jennifer Robson of Concord are both members of Concord Greenspace (CG3)
The owners of the abandoned Gulf Gas Station across from Concord High School (between Warren and Pleasant Streets -188 Pleasant St) have submitted a request to the Planning Board for a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) to reopen this location. There are many reasons this is a dangerous plan for Concord: traffic, public safety, economy and aesthetics to mention a few.
First and foremost this is a huge public safety issue. Members of the Transportation Policy Advisory Committee(TPAC) report the Gulf station’s location at Pleasant, Warren and N. Fruit Streets is an exceedingly dangerous intersection in Concord and should be high on the list of intersections to be reconfigured, with plans for a roundabout. When the Gulf Station was operational it made an already dangerous 5-way intersection even more complicated and difficult for automobiles, cyclists and pedestrians to navigate. This location is busy with City bus stops, school buses, a large volume of cars, and Concord High School students walking to school from surrounding neighborhoods and the designated student parking lots at Warren Street and Memorial Field. If you’ve ever driven through the intersection at the beginning or end of the school day, you know it’s further congested by parents dropping off and picking up students from their vehicles pulled to the side of the street. Further pressure on the intersection will come from the State’s Mental Health Facility slated to be built on the abutting State Property at the corner of S. Fruit and Pleasant Streets.
Critical to this picture are ambulances transporting patients to Concord Hospital. Congested areas are always problematic for the speedy and safe transport of those needing emergency care without endangering other vehicles and pedestrians.
The City should move forward with plans to build a roundabout and redesign this intersection to be safer for vehicles, pedestrians and bicyclists. This would come as a shot in the arm with the potential to turn a congested and dangerous intersection into a safer, more fluid transportation corridor. We ask the Planning Board not to approve anything on the Gulf property that could preclude the City’s own intersection improvements! An active gas station at this location will significantly increase the danger to all who travel in and around the area and to what end? There’s already a functional gas station across the street. Please come to the Planning Board meeting on February 15th at 7pm in City Chambers to be heard on this issue.