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The St. Louis area has some incredible treasures. All too often, however, we don't appreciate what we have until it's too late. That was the case with the Cahokia Mounds, the largest pre-Columbian settlement north of Mexico. It's now recognized by UNESCO as a world heritage site and attracts visitors from all over the world. It wasn't that long ago that one of the mounds was destroyed in order to make way for a Grandpa's store and its surrounding parking lot. Looking back today one can only ask, "What in the world were they thinking?"
One generation later history is about to repeat itself at the confluence of the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers. Like the Cahokia Mounds this is a site with international significance. The State of Missouri has expended large amounts of money to acquire and conserve this unique natural resource. There are many who deem the confluence worthy of recognition by the National Park Service and UNESCO. Experts agree that it has real potential as a destination for eco-tourists from around the world.
Why then are some government officials considering a proposal to put a casino just south of the confluence? Do we really want to pave over this valuable wetland for a huge entertainment complex with a parking lot for 8,000 cars? Have we learned nothing since the most recent destruction of one of the Cahokia mounds? Do we really want future generations to be saying about us, "What in the world were they thinking?"
(The opinions expressed are not necessarily those of St. Louis Public Radio.)
Tom Schlafly is an attorney in St. Louis.