, Salem, MA

May 10, 2013

Good luck to Boxborough

The Salem News

---- — It appears that Danvers has been left by the wayside as a Maryland casino developer courts Boxborough residents in its quest to open a slots parlor.

The Cordish Companies, which spoke with Danvers officials earlier this year about the possibility of a slots parlor at the Liberty Tree Mall, hasn’t shown up here since February and is actively campaigning for popular support for a hotel and slots parlor in Boxborough.

Some, no doubt, will feel sorry for Danvers’ loss.

We’re inclined to believe the town has dodged a bullet.

All you have to do is consider how Salem’s monthlong Haunted Happenings festival changes the entire North Shore each October, drawing an estimated 250,000 fun-loving visitors — and their cars. For residents in Salem and neighboring communities, it means miles of weekend traffic backups extending all the way up Route 128, past the malls and into Salem. It can be a chore to get to the mall, or anywhere else, for that matter. In some areas, residents can feel like prisoners in their homes.

Now multiply that effect a few hundred times to get a feel for the possible impact from a year-round, 24-hour-a-day gambling emporium. A casino that the same company operates at a Maryland mall gets an estimated 14 million visitors a year. Now add alcohol to the mix, a major component of most gambling outings. It’s not just nearby condominium neighbors who would feel the effects; everyone who lives in this neck of the woods could expect to be impacted.

Of course, Haunted Happenings pumps an estimated $9 million into the regional economy, tourism officials say. That boost seems like a fair offset for a month of inconvenience, making it possible for residents and neighbors to enjoy all the restaurants and attractions it helps to sustain during the rest of the year, when the tourist hordes go home.

A slots parlor, too, would surely have economic benefits for Danvers and for the region, but would come with a far-steeper price — year-round inconvenience on a much grander scale. With no train station in Danvers, it’s reasonable to assume that millions more drivers would clog roads like Route 128 that already struggle to handle the existing traffic volume.

It’s still possible The Cordish Companies could come courting here. They say they’ve not excluded any options yet, as they wait to see how Boxborough reacts. But in the meantime, we won’t be shedding any tears over Danvers’ loss.