By Bill Olinger
Approximately four years ago, I changed my residence from Cedar Rapids to Sanibel, Fla. I very much enjoy Florida but every day I feel homesick for Cedar Rapids and look forward to my summer return.
I am the owner of a number of historic buildings on the perimeter of our downtown.
Because of my profound affection for Cedar Rapids, I have taken an interest in the debate about the proposed casino. There are a few things that seem apparent to me regarding the casino.
First, the leaders of the investment group, who are acquaintances of mine, are very successful individuals who accomplished success with great ethics and integrity. Any casino built by them will be one Cedar Rapids can be proud of.
I am also friends with some of the other investors and while it is clear that they would like a reasonable return on their investment, I am certain that most of them are more motivated by the benefits to Cedar Rapids rather than their profits.
Second, there will be a huge benefit to the historic buildings in and around the downtown. Some of these structures have already been demolished because they could not be repurposed economically. It is far easier to repurpose the remaining historic properties in a community that is expanding with new jobs and new business.
Finally, the “No Vote” group includes some very well intentioned people. However, the surrounding competing casinos’ effort to defeat the Linn County project seems so transparently insincere. They tell us we should worry about addicting people to gambling here in our community, but they are more than willing to accommodate our Linn County addicts, perhaps create some new ones and then export them back to Linn County. I have not seen such hypocrisy anywhere except in Congress.
Gambling appears to have been very successful in venues such as Riverside. I don’t hear them complaining about addiction crime and morals. It’s a fun place to go for gambling and entertainment. If we are going to bring people to Cedar Rapids, we are going to need more than Bingo. We will need the same draws the opposition enjoys.
Bill Olinger of Sanibel Island, Fla., was a longtime Cedar Rapids attorney who owns several historic properties in Cedar Rapids. He is not an investor in the proposed Cedar Rapids casino project. Comments; email@example.com