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Can The Provence Buy Its Neighbors' Silence?

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A few steps ahead of other casinos, Tower Investments (the company owned by Bart Blatstein, the developer behind The Provence) is attempting to get an agreement signed which would stipulate that The Provence would put $300K to $450K into a neighborhood revitalization fund every year, in addition to trash pickup and construction debris cleaning.

Of course, Blatstein will want something in return: the agreement stipulates that the community would take a "non-opposition stance" toward the casino. Though these agreements between casinos and community groups are typical after the building process has started, The Provence's go-getter timing seems geared toward improving their chances of winning the second casino license.

Interestingly, the agreement also comes with $90,000 to pay legal fees to the lawyer hired by the Broad Street Coalition. The same law firm represents Isle of Capri, the casino management company tapped to run The Provence. The firm claims that they have put up a firewall to keep competing interests from affecting one another. However, paying for the neighborhood coalition's lawyer does seem like a convenient way for the Provence to cut down on lawsuits from their neighbors.

Though the Broad Street Coalition might sign the deal, three organizations (the Rodeph Shalom Synagogue, the the Mathematics, Civics and Sciences Charter School and Friends Select School) have already voiced their opposition to the casino. Sources say that the coalition will decide whether or not to take the deal on January 25th.
· Community splits over casino cash []