Yes to Another Resort
With two weeks to go, most of the arguments for and against a casino in Oxford have been debated. What is obvious about both positions is the amount of speculation both sides of the issue are willing to adopt to strengthen their point of view. Fortunately, Bethel voters have a unique perspective which enables us to make a more “informed” decision on this issue based on our collective experience with the Sunday River Ski Resort.
If we accept the many arguments opponents have for not allowing a resort casino to be built in Oxford, then why are we so accepting of the ski resort? We have lived with a resort that affords a seasonal work force “low- paying service jobs,” a resort that sends its profits out of state to a Wall Street investment fund and Michigan management company, that has changed the character of our town dramatically over the years, that has contributed to an increase in crime, that has demanded significant infrastructure improvements (the Parkway and Route 26), and whose business model is consistent with any good, well-managed entertainment and leisure business, keeping its patrons and their money in their facilities as much as possible. The ski resort, for the most part, is a destination for skiers, like gamblers who just gamble, they go to the resort to ski, and ski some more.
We are accepting of the town’s largest employer because it offers at least some opportunity for us to take jobs there and create businesses that may provide a service or a product to the thousands of visitors that make it to our doorstep, though they might not make it through the door (unless we barricade the Parkway!). We are thankful too for a resort that is able to provide some hope for those laid off from lost manufacturing jobs, jobs that in all likelihood won’t come back anytime soon without very, very deep pockets and changes in our state government. One important way the proposed resort casino in Oxford would be different, however, is the mandate that a percentage of its profits goes directly to improving education in our state which will help promote a climate where new businesses, such as four-season outdoor recreational resorts and hi-tech manufacturing facilities, can thrive and prosper.
If the rest of Maine knew how a small town like ours can adapt, accept, and bank on the presence of a resort like Sunday River, how could anyone vote no on question one and deny another small town the opportunities we have?