Old Fort Road Casino Plan Raises Concern

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Proposed Parx Casino

A proposal to build an $800 million casino-hotel-entertainment complex next to Livingston Square shopping center in Fort Washington has sparked considerable concern among Piscataway Hills residents.

The Parx Casino Hotel & Spa, proposed by Greenwood Racing in May 2013, would be constructed on 22 acres of mostly wooded land at the intersection of Indian Head Highway (MD 210) and Old Fort Road North (across from the Giant supermarket). According to the developer, the facility, if approved, would include 4,750 slot machines, 170 table games, a 250 room hotel and a 5,000-space parking garage.

The Parx proposal is one of three that are competing for the right to build and operate one casino in Prince George’s County, as authorized by Maryland voters in 2012. The other two proposed casinos are at Rosecroft Raceway, sponsored by Penn National Gaming, and at National Harbor, sponsored by MGM Resorts.

At a community meeting held in Tantallon in response to the Parx plan, area residents, including several from Piscataway Hills, noted that the Old Fort Road location has the worst highway access of the three sites, with congested Indian Head Highway providing the primary access to the Beltway. Participants at the meeting also contended that the Parx casino would create unacceptable environmental damage, such as the destruction of woodland and heightened stormwater runoff in the Broad Creek Historic District.

Casino supporters cite jobs and tax benefits. “The proposed development is expected to create more than 5,000 jobs and $1 billion of annual economic benefit to the state upon completion, along with approximately 5,000 construction jobs and more than $600 million of economic benefit during the construction phase of the project,” according to a press release from Greenwood Racing. “In addition, the casino operation is projected to generate more than $400 million of gaming tax rev- enue for the state and local communities.”

A public hearing on the Parx proposal will be held Wednesday, October 23, at 6 p.m. at Friendly High School. (Hearings on the Rosecroft proposal will be October 21 and the MGM plan on October 25.) The hearings will be conducted by the Maryland Video Lottery Facility Location Commission (VLFLC), which will select the proposal to be constructed. Before each public hearing, the Commission will tour the proposed site at 2 p.m. and hear a presentation from the sponsor at 3:30 p.m.

“The purpose of each of the site visits and public hearings is for the Commissioners to view the proposed location, observe the surrounding community, get a sense of the size and scope of the proposed facilities, to hear directly from the applicants, and to listen to the public support and public concerns about the proposed project” said Commission Chairman Donald C. Fry.

For more information on the hearings and how to testify or submit a statement, see the Commission web site.