Franklin Township trustees will not support casino
Franklin Township trustees are not throwing out a welcome mat for Penn National.
While many local groups are rallying to bring a casino to the Westside, along with the jobs and tax dollars they claim are sure to follow, Franklin Township is simply trying to hold on to what they’ve got left.
“Every time a development comes in here and starts making money, the city comes in and takes it,” said fire Chief Richard Howard.
Trustee Don Cook agreed. “Everybody will gain but Franklin Township,” he said.
The passing of Issue 3 in November cleared the way for the developer to begin construction on a $250 million casino in the Arena District. Soon after the ballots had been counted, however, city officials were looking for a way to send the Pennsylvania based developer packing.
Mayor Michael Coleman, along with members of Columbus City Council, have asked Penn to identify a new location outside of the downtown area, and according to city officials, Penn is willing to listen.
Out of the four possible locations identified by Columbus, two are on the Westside, and both of those lie within the boundaries of Franklin Township. The former Delphi plant on Georgesville Road, as well as Westland Mall on West Broad Street, are both up for consideration. Also on the table are the former Cooper Stadium and an area near Polaris.
All business associations, commissions, civic organizations and local governments in close proximity to the properties were asked to pass resolutions in support of a Westside casino location, and until Franklin Township trustees placed their votes on Jan. 7, all groups had moved to support the developer.
While all three trustees support development on West Broad Street, they are also wary of Columbus letting the township share in the wealth.
“You negotiate before you sign a contract, and I can’t give my support to anything if I don’t know what we’re going to get,” said Cook.
Trustees’ fears were not unprecedented. Recently, the township took a hard blow from the city when the former Cooper Stadium was annexed out of the township and into Columbus.
“We had it for 50 years, and then when a development opportunity came along, they took it away. We had no input,” said trustee chairperson Tim Guyton.
While many homes and businesses in Franklin Township have annexed into the city in order to take advantage of water and sewer services, Howard was quick to point out that Westland Mall already receives these services.
“We have a firehouse right up the road. If we lose that tax money, who is going to pay the salaries for the firemen that are going to be the first ones there?” he asked.
“They have water, they have sewer. They have fire and police. They don’t need the city,” said Cook.
Trustees discussed the possibility of drafting a letter of support with a stipulation that whichever plot of land is chosen remain in the township, but when it came to a vote, only Guyton voted in favor of that option.
“This amendment is a new amendment, and you can put whatever you want in it,” said Guyton. “This is bigger than Franklin Township. We can share in the gains.”
Guyton stressed that although trustees voted not to draft a letter in support of the casino, their vote would not stop Penn National from selecting a Westside location.
“In the meantime, we’ve got nothing going on right now, and more leaving every time you turn around,” he said.
“I do not see Penn National talking with anyone other than the City of Columbus. That’s my gut feeling,” said Trustee Paul Johnson. “I can’t believe they are serious about looking at other spots. I think we are being played.”
I don't often share political views but as far as this casino on the "west side" goes, I could be a very good thing or bad thing for the community dependent on the communities involvement.I am no longer a resident but I have many friends and family there. The community should not depend on the city of Columbus or politicians to have its best interest in mind. There are many organizations for various areas, but one single voice or group that represents as a whole. I don't understand how Grove City, Dublin, Hilliard etc are represented by city government and the "west side" has Franklin Twp. Prairie Twp, WABA, Hilltop, and many other group representing there own neighborhoods. I believe that if Columbus really doesn't want casinos (legally it has already been decided for them), then they should make some concessions. This would be a great opportunity to incorporate or form some form of local government. United it will stand or divided it shall fail.
On January 8, 2010 Brian said:
I think that they should really look at the broader picture, even if they do not get the money from it they will get the money from the other businesses in the area that will begin to make more money from all of the travelers that will be coming to spend money there. Lets look at the fact that there will be an increased need for lodging, and entertainment. Westland Mall could become something nice again if the casino was placed at the old Delphi site. I was raised on the west side and I graduated from Westland HS, I remember when the far west side was a nice place, anymore it is falling into a deeper hole each year. We need something to make people want to develop the area again, and something to bring the business back to the west side. Easton has had its time to flourish and rake in the money, now its time to make the west side something special again. Please do not take this as bashing although it might sound like that but I remember when things were nice and people was active in the community and spent their hard earned money at west side businesses. This is a rare opportunity to make things happen, lets not spoil it over who is getting all the tax money from the casino, lets make it about EVERYONE and how EVERYONE CAN BENEFIT from this! Lets bring some business BACK TO THE WESTLAND AREA!