Foxboro’s Casino War: It’s Starting to come apart

by Robert Gillis
Published in the Foxboro Reporter, 4/2012

Do you remember Gary Larson’s often bizarre and always hilarious “Far Side” comic strip? It always made me laugh, and I wanted to reflect on one of my favorites because it’s apropos to today’s topic. In the panel, nuclear mushroom clouds are bursting everywhere, and Earth is a radioactive wasteland. Two people emerge from a bomb shelter and the man exclaims joyfully, “Thank God, Sylvia, we’re alive!”

The last time I saw that one, I thought, “What a great metaphor for Foxboro, 2012.”

Every time I read the news — and I read all of it — I’m seeing our town become more divided over the casino issue, and what I fear is an out and out war, in which the victors will inherit a broken wasteland of hatred, resentment, and bad feelings that will last generations. One side will win the casino battle, as the survivors survey the scorched earth and bloodied landscape and rejoice, “We won!”

Don’t believe me? Let’s start with the death threats. Yes, the DEATH THREATS being made against two selectman. Two leaders of Foxboro (and implicitly, their loved ones) have been threatened with violence and murder. Over what? Their vote on whether or not to support a new business on Route One, a casino/resort.

That is PATHETIC.

We all knew this fight would get ugly and no one is naïve enough to believe we haven’t seen the worst yet, but DEATH THREATS? Are you kidding me?!!! This is FOXBORO!

For this development to continue, there is a very long process that must be followed and laws that must be adhered to, and finally, and most importantly, the zoning laws on route one would need to be changed by a two-thirds majority of the town vote. We are YEARS away from that and people are already acting like blood enemies.

Good God in Heaven, we’re better than this. Behavior on both sides has been BEYOND reprehensible. We don’t even have a host agreement and already lawsuits and injunctions are being filed. How about we just declare martial law? Or meet on the common and battle it out in a gang rumble and kick the tar out of each other?

This town’s behavior — for or against this casino — is causing a literal division in Foxboro that WILL NOT HEAL over time. WE WILL NOT GET PAST THIS ONE. WE WILL NOT RECOVER FROM THIS.

Times change, people change, towns change, but this situation has all the makings of a civil war where this beloved Gem of Norfolk County will become unrecognizable, a place to be avoided. People are starting to HATE each other. People are threatening each other.

Every generation worries about the future. Casino or not, I fear that in less than ten years Foxboro will be unrecognizable, and a place no one wants to live.

Casino or not, we need to be civil, we need to act like we give a damn about our town and each other.

People of Foxboro, proponents and opponents of the Casino — look in the mirror: The greatest threat to Foxboro is US. We’re running out of time before it all falls apart. Please don’t let this happen. We’re better than this.

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