GETTYSBURG, Pa. — The plan to build a casino near the site of the bloodiest battle of the Civil War has sparked support and opposition from locals and out-of-towners.
The Gettysburg Battlefield Preservation Association said it will support a proposal to turn an existing hotel and conference center into a casino.
That decision, announced last week, came a few days after the national head of the American Legion declared the plan “a national disgrace.’’
The dispute involves a local developer’s proposal to turn the Eisenhower Conference Center, a hotel complex about a half-mile from the battlefield, into a “resort casino’’ with 600 slot machines and 50 gaming tables. The Gettysburg proposal is competing with three others for a state gaming license.
The preservation group said the casino would be on the site of an existing development and would not interfere with the battlefield’s boundaries, while providing much-needed economic development.
“The Gettysburg Battlefield Preservation Association would not support a commercial project that would use or impinge upon the battlefield,’’ association president Brendan Synnamon said.
Critics have suggested the association’s support for the plan is a result of contributions and support from casino developer David LeVan, but in an interview with the Pariot-News of Harrisburg, Synnamon denied any conflict of interest.
The supervisors of Cumberland Township, where the casino would be located, support the plan. So, too, do the Adams County commissioners and the local chamber of commerce.
The national commander of the American Legion, Clarence E. Hill, doesn’t like the plan, saying it’s too close to the scene of “substantial fighting’’ and hypothesizing that soldiers could be buried on the site in unmarked graves.