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Your Tewksbury Today

Do Tewksbury Residents Have A 'NIMBY' Mentality?

Nov 05, 2014 02:40PM ● By Bill Gilman
It's not that Tewksbury residents have any moral objection to casino gambling. They just don't want it HERE.
That's the conclusion drawn by several residents, after Tewksbury voters joined the rest of the state in voting against Question 3 on the Nov. 4 election ballot, which would have repealed legalized casino gambling in the Commonwealth.
The question was defeated across the state, 60-40 percent, giving the green light for Casino projects in Everett, Plainville and Springfield to move forward.
In Tewksbury, the margin of defeat was even greater, 69-30 percent.
The local result had some residents shaking their heads, given that Tewksbury voters at a 2013 Special Town Meeting had overwhelmingly shot down a proposal to locate a slots parlor in North Tewksbury near Route 495.
Selectman Scott Wilson, who supported the slots parlor proposal, wondered in a Facebook posting if the vote was evidence that Tewksbury residents had a "Not In My Back Yard" (NIMBY) mentality.
"I was really interested to see that in every precinct in Tewksbury that we voted overwhelmingly to keep gaming in Massachusetts," wrote Wilson.
Karyn Sliva, a vocal opponent of the Tewksbury casino project drew the same conclusion as Wilson, though in her case, she was opposed to casinos anywhere in Massachusetts.
"I was disappointed that Question 3 to repeal the casino law in MA, did not at least pass in Tewksbury, where we overwhelmingly defeated the slots parlor at Town Mtg.," Sliva wrote in a comment on the Your Tewksbury Today Facebook page. "I guess the old saying prevails for 'some'...'as long as it's not in my back yard.'"
But Mike Regan, commenting on Wilson's Facebook post, wondered if the vote may also have been indicative of Tewksbury voters showing respect for residents of the towns that approved casino projects.
" ... but perhaps the more compelling reason for the casino vote had to do with the general "votership" respecting the decisions of these individual towns who've already gone through a process of voting in/out the idea of a local casino in their respective backyards," wrote Regan. "Who are we to tell Everett, etc. that they were "wrong" to vote a casino in? I think a lot of people went to the polls yesterday, and left their sense of righteousness and moral indignation at home, and voted to let these casinos in as a modicum of respect to these towns having already decided on the matter."
Wilson wrote if the ballot vote is actually indicative of how most people in Tewksbury feel about casinos, it's evidence that a small number of voters at a Town Meeting can subvert the desires of the majority. In his comments, he also alluded to a proposed change to the Town Charter, which was defeated by Town Meeting voters two years ago.
"I believe (STILL) that the bigger issue in our town is how we vote on things and the form of government that we have. When we allow more residents to be involved in the process, we get a more accurate view of what the entire town wants, not a small special interest group (usually NIMBY)," wrote Wilson. "Trust me there were issues with the Casino and with the Charter change. 
Those issues being heard at Town Meeting didn't allow the rest of our residents to be heard. I want a government where all the voices count, not the loudest voices. It's too bad we didn't have more time and an opportunity to bring $5+M a year to Tewksbury our town would have benefited."

Do you agree with these sentiments? Does Tewksbury have a NIMBY mentality? Does a Town Meeting form of government put too much power in the hands of the "passionate" few?
Share your views in the comment section below.

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