Nashua residents' views vary on casino development in NHBy BENJAMIN C. KLEIN
Union Leader Correspondent
February 23. 2013 10:14PM
NASHUA - Politicians aren't the only ones debating the merits of a casino in southern New Hampshire; Nashua residents are also discussing whether they would want on in their back yard.
The topic of expanded gambling has been a hot-button issue off and on for some time in New Hampshire, but it has been revived since Gov. Maggie Hassan took office, She announced in her inaugural address that she would seriously consider allowing a casino to open in the state, then made casino gambling revenue a key element in her state budget plan.
While many Nashua residents say they want a casino in the area either for amusement or the economic benefits, some are dead-set against it.
Buddy Cochran said he doesn't want to see a casino in southern New Hampshire under any conditions.
"It is too much crime, for one thing, and it is not a good environment for children. I don't believe in gambling; southern New Hampshire is not the right environment for a casino; I am really not interested in it; and the negatives will outweigh any positives," Cochran said.
Tony Lopez said he would like to see a local casino built and listed a boost in employment as the primary benefit. However, Lopez added that despite the additional jobs, local roadways would have to be expanded to avoid traffic congestion, and extra police would have to be hired to handle the influx of people coming from out of state.
Deanna Bruce was adamant that she thought a casino would benefit the area, but more so from an entertainment perspective.
"There is not much to do around here. You have to travel to Boston or up north to do anything," Bruce said.
However, Bruce said, the economic benefit might not be what everyone might expect because local taxes would probably go up to pay for things such as extra roads and police, and surrounding restaurants and shopping areas would raise their prices due to the increase in demand.
Debbie Mettalic said the area is too small for a "big, flashy" casino, and she would rather see one just in Massachusetts.
Longtime Nashua resident Jerry Reynolds said he has been following the casino story, and it looks like New Hampshire might get a casino before Massachusetts.
"However, if a casino is built in southern New Hampshire, I wouldn't put it right here in Nashua, maybe farther west 10 miles, where it won't impact every town in the area. That is what I would do," he said.
Person on the street
To get more views on the subject, we asked the following Nashua residents these questions:
(1) Have you ever been to a casino?
(2) Would you travel to one in Massachusetts?
(3) If one opened in southern New Hampshire, would you go to it? (If yes, how often?)
(4) Do you think southern New Hampshire is a good place for a casino?
-- Neal Kruger has been to Foxwoods in Connecticut and would visit a casino in Massachusetts "maybe once, just to see it.'' If one opened in New southern New Hampshire, he'd go to it "once in awhile, not on a regular basis.'' About New Hampshire's southern border being a good place for a casino, he said, "I have mixed feelings about that,''
-- Richard St. Louis has also been to Foxwoods and, depending on how far away it was, would also go to one in Massachusetts. If a casino were located in southern New Hampshire, he would visit it "maybe once every few months.'' He thinks it would be a good place to have one.
-- Val Donovan has been to casinos in Las Vegas and Monte Carlo, but says he would not go to one in Massachusetts or New Hampshire and has "mixed feelings' on there being one locally.
-- Kavita Nadgir has been to Mohegan Sun in Connecticut and would "definitely'' patronize one in Massachusetts and New Hampshire. About location, however, she said, "I feel Massachusetts would be better.''
-- Kathryn Boardman went to a casino in Connecticut "for a Billy Joel concert.'' She was noncommital about going to a casino in either Massachusetts or New Hampshire - "Maybe,'' she said to both Questions 2 and 3 - but she agreed southern New Hampshire would make a good host.
-- Darren Rivas has never been to a casino, but would visit one across the border. He's "not sure'' about going to one in New Hampshire, but possibly "yes.'' He likes the idea of one being in New Hampshire.
-- Christine Sobel also has never been to a casino before, but would go to one in Massachusetts and in southern New Hampshire, where the frequency would be "a few times a year." In fact, she thinks southern New Hampshire would be a good place to have one.