I am nothing if not ahead of my time.

On April 1, 1999, I wrote a column about filling in the Lake and building the “Quannapowitt Casino.” In spite of the date on the newspaper, some people in town actually thought it was a serious proposal.

Back then, the state’s economy was booming, cities and towns were flush with money, and it was easy to make jokes about casino gambling in Massachusetts.

But it’s 2007, and everything has changed. State aid has dried up, and cities and towns are struggling, to put in mildly. It’s gotten to the point where Massachusetts Governor Deval “Slots” Patrick has agreed to support the idea of three resort style casinos in the state in order to generate needed revenue.

Initial proposals floated would place one casino in East Boston, one in central Massachusetts and one in the Western part of the state. A group in Middleborough is also lobbying to bring a casino in. Casino gambling proponents argue that with daily busloads of Massachusetts gamblers heading for destinations like Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun in Connecticut, the Commonwealth’s treasury is losing out on a potential jackpot.

But why should places like Boston and Middleborough have all the fun? With the Wakefield’s budget stretched, and neighboring towns like Saugus and Stoneham on the brink of financial ruin, can we still afford to joke about my Quannapowitt Casino proposal?

Think about it. We already have the Indian name, which greatly enhances our credibility in this effort. In addition to providing the town with a much-needed financial boost, think of all the other problems that the Quannapowitt Casino would solve.

First, it would provide the instant solution to the goose problem that some have been calling for. It took decades for the Canada goose population to reach an intolerable level, but now some want the town to snap its fingers and make the problem instantly disappear. Filling in the Lake and putting up a casino would provide this instant solution. Talk about habitat modification.

With the Lake gone, Jordan’s Furniture could turn its lights back up to their original blinding intensity and no one could complain about reflections on the water. (Jordan’s would need the extra wattage in order to compete with the marquee that would grace the Quannapowitt Casino.)

In order to make Wakefield a “resort destination” the common could be converted to a golf course. Without the Lake, the common would lose much of its appeal anyway. (Unintended benefit: no more craft fairs on the common!)
Bandstand (widescreen)
Wakefield Common

To further bolster the resort proposal, we have the Lord Wakefield Hotel for convenient lodging. Far more people would travel to Wakefield for a casino than just to look at some boring lake. Think of the added hotel tax revenue the town would realize!

And for fine dining, there’s always Fred’s Franks. Fred’s Franks would fit right in with the carnival atmosphere of a casino town. In fact, with no beautiful lake to protect, we could invite more vendors to the former shoreline, bringing in still more revenue from peddler’s permits. It would be like Revere Beach without the water.

To be sure, there are those who have a sentimental attachment to the Lake. Those people will just have to get over it. Wakefield still has Crystal Lake, after all. How many bodies of water does one town need?

It would seem that casinos in Massachusetts are now inevitable. I foresaw this in 1999 with my column about the proposed Quannapowitt Casino. With my demonstrated gift of prescience, you can bet you’ll find me in the Quannapowitt Casino—at the roulette table.

[This column originally appeared in the September 27, 2007 Wakefield Daily Item.]


  1. 1 Gray

    Mark, I enjoyed this modest proposal so much. I am watching someone else reading at right now, and laughing at his laughter. And the fancy restaurants could serve pate fois gras.

  2. 2 Dave

    You don’t even need to fill the lake in! Just build a large dock by vetrans field (and a parkring garage) and float a couple of those riverboat casinos.

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