About six years ago, my then-fiancee and I moved to Middleboro. Previously, I’d been in Falmouth and she’d been in Stoneham, near our respective jobs, and we had decided we wanted to move in together and live in sin. Happy, contented sin.
Since neither of us felt it wise to give up jobs in which we were secure and provided us with suitable income, we chose Middleboro as a nice middle-ground. She could take the train to the city — the Lakeville commuter rail station was a two-minute drive from our apartment — and I had a pretty straight shot down 495 to the Cape. Convenience all around.
As it turned out, Middleboro was a great community. It was quiet, mellow, not very developed — very much like the Falmouth of my childhood. Our apartment was around the corner from a great ice cream shop, and we later discovered an excellent walking route that carried us past a small restaurant and a used book store (both places we still go on occasion), onto Main Street, and past several lovely historic homes.
We were very happy there. When we started the homebuying process, we started looking in Middleboro.
Then the casino came to town.
More specifically, the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe pitched a casino for Middleboro, and town leaders pounced on the idea. I remain convinced the board of selectmen saw the potnetial for insane amounts of cash flowing into the cash-strapped town (more than a few residents believe the town would have been less cash-strapped had the selectmen been more fiscally responsible in the first place) and used that prospect to bully the project through. The infamous mass town meeting held mere weeks after the first pitch was a questionable affair, but it cleared the path for the casino to come to town.
That was in 2007. My wife and I decided we didn’t want to live in the same town as a casino. Benefits real or imagined be damned, I’d lived in a community that depended on tourism most of my life, and I was sick of it. I liked the feeling that I wasn’t an unwelcome guest in my own home because all of the oh-so-important tourists were mobbing the place and supporting the local economy, and I didn’t want to go back to that.
So we wound up leaving Middleboro and moving to a nearby community. I still miss Middleboro, and as the casino project has continued to deteriorate, I’ve been feeling a renewed sense of resentment over being driven from a place I thought of as my home.
(I suspect that this will be where some wag chimes in about the same thing happening to the Native Americans, but you know what? I played no part in that, so don’t try and hang institutional guilt on me. I don’t play that game.)
I got a fresh whiff of ire this week when I found out that the town of Halifax, one of the communities that could experience collateral damage (or benefits) from the casino funded a survey that indicates the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe doesn’t have any historical ties to the land they purchased in Middleboro — one of the crucial factors in getting the land placed into trust for use as a casino.
Why am I not surprised that the proposal’s main salesman, Glenn Marshall — the guy who was convicted on scamming Social Security, tax fraud, embezzlement, and making illegal campaign contributions — apparently lied about the tribe’s ties to the town?
It’s looking less and less likely that the casino will happen, and it the project does indeed collapse, I’ll be happy for my former neighbors, who will be able to breathe a profound sigh of relief. I just wish I could join them.