Date of Award

1997

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Community Planning

First Advisor

Howard H. Foster, Jr.

Abstract

Practicing planners are facing an increasing number of professional and ethical dilemmas in their professional lives. As public servants, both elected officials and professionals have been forced to become more responsive to the public demand and attitudes. As a result, many of the values influential in the past have been reassessed (Thomas, 1991).

On August 29, 1994, the governor of the state of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations announced a compact for an Indian sponsored gambling casino in the town of West Greenwich, Rhode Island. The compact was subject to both local and statewide approval. The referendum would take place nine weeks from the date of the announced proposal. Citizen reaction was immediate, passionate, and divided. The issue of gaming was complex; the sense of urgency was conspicuous; and tensions were apparent between multiple interest groups and stakeholders. Proponents of the casino guaranteed a jackpot of local job opportunities and wind fall tax revenues. Opponents feared grave disruption of social, environmental, and economic consequences. Local residents looked to town leaders for information on how the town would be impacted from the proposal.

This case example is an empirical inquiry which examines a contemporary phenomena within a real-life context. Illustrative of the case study, this inquiry examines how and why the writer/planner intervened in a highly acclaimed, politically charged public policy issue. Subjects discussed include circumstances, principles, value commitments, and personal characteristics that influenced the behavior of the writer/planner. At the heart of the study is an assessment of the role of the town planner.

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