updated 8/30/2010 3:49:41 PM ET 2010-08-30T19:49:41

The town where the Civil War's tide-turning battle was waged is fighting dissension in its own ranks, with even hard-core preservationists split over a proposed casino that would rise near the historic battlefield and be named for the line that divided North and South.

It's the second time in five years that Gettysburg has fought over a plan to build a casino. This time it's the Mason Dixon Resort & Casino, proposed on a hotel and conference center site within a mile of the southern boundary of Gettysburg National Military Park.

"No Casino" and "Pro Casino" signs pepper shop windows in the quaint streets of Gettysburg, where more than a million tourists shop, dine or sleep each year.

Supporters say the casino plan doesn't tread on hallowed ground and will bring jobs, more tourists and tax relief to the area. But the potential that a casino will cheapen the wholesome reputation that draws tourists to Gettysburg, where 160,000 Union and Confederate soldiers fought a three-day battle in the summer of 1863, is what worries many.

Story: National parks feel the effects of human, environmental threats

"It seems like a lot of people, they just want more business, they want more money to flow in the community at any cost, and that's really upsetting," said Barbara Schultz, a Gettysburg native and casino opponent who owns a bed and breakfast and art gallery.

Casino principals, supporters and opponents will speak at a public meeting Tuesday with state regulators who are considering the license application to build the casino.

The developer, David LeVan, is a noted local philanthropist and former Conrail Inc. chairman who lives across the street from the park's museum and visitors center. He has helped renovate the town's historic Majestic theater and donated family land to help preservation efforts.

He declined to comment Tuesday through a spokesman, David La Torre, who pointed out that the area around the nearly 6,000-acre park is already saturated with hotels, fast-food restaurants and big-box stores.

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"You've got to really keep it in its proper context," La Torre said. "You've got to realize how big this place is. It's humongous, and people are fighting us and we're not even located on it."

The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board rejected LeVan's first plan in 2006 amid an outcry that gambling would sully the character of the battlefield where Union soldiers stopped the Confederate advance.

LeVan and supporters contend the new casino plan is much smaller than the first — they are seeking a license that allows up to 600 slot machines and 50 table games — and would pump new life into a struggling hotel and conference center.

What do you think of the casino plan? Vote here.

The county is supporting the plan in exchange for a $1 million annual contribution to its treasury. A local group, the Gettysburg Battlefield Preservation Association, endorses the plan, saying the potential to strengthen the local economy could boost preservation efforts. Park officials say they have determined that the casino does not directly affect park resources.

Still, the Civil War Preservation Trust put the Gettysburg National Military Park on its endangered list because of the casino plan.

In April, Ronald Maxwell, who made the epic 1993 movie "Gettysburg," came to town to deliver an impassioned speech to casino opponents.

The French would not allow a casino to be built on famous battlefields along the Somme River or in the Ardennes, and the Polish would not allow a casino a half-mile of the site of the Katyn massacre or the Auschwitz concentration camp, he said.

"Why stop at Gettysburg? Maybe we should build some casinos at the site of the World Trade Center," he said. "That would create some jobs right? Heck, that would help the tax base, right?"

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Video: Park rangers to tourists: Put gadgets away

  1. Transcript of: Park rangers to tourists: Put gadgets away

    MATT LAUER, co-host: If you're headed to a national park before the end of summer , you're going to have a lot of company. Yellowstone , for example, is playing host to record crowds.

    ANN CURRY, co-host: And those visitors are toting more technology than ever, digital cameras , smart phones , GPS locators. But as NBC 's George Lewis found out, all those gizmos can sometimes lead to trouble.

    Mr. KEN PHILLIPS: Did you see a deer?

    GEORGE LEWIS reporting: Park ranger Ken Phillips runs emergency services at the Grand Canyon . His mission is to keep park visitors safe, and there are plenty of those.

    Ms. SHANNAN MARCAK (Grand Canyon National Park Spokesperson): On average, we've been doing about four and a half million visitors each year.

    LEWIS: And these days, those visitors come laden with technology. The young woman from France with her iPhone , the guy from Japan balancing video and still cameras, and plenty of Americans eager to share their pictures with folks back home. Here's the old point of view shot over the canyon rim as we come close to the edge . But while people are carrying smart phones , they're not always doing smart things. I can use GPS to find out where I am at all times, and if I get so absorbed in this gadget that I forget the basics of safety, I can get in a lot of trouble. Just ask Kathy Hayes , whose brother-in-law Donald spotted a bison in Yellowstone . Kathy , sensing the perfect YouTube moment, followed, camera rolling.

    Ms. KATHY HAYES: We'll get a shot of Donald getting gored by the buffalo.

    LEWIS: But when the bison got angry and charged, it was Kathy , not Donald , he went after.

    Ms. HAYES: No! It was a traumatic experience. So yeah, just don't do what I did. Be smart, people.

    LEWIS: Ken Phillips says while rescue numbers remain constant, one of his technical pet peeves is a spike in false alarms sent by people with emergency beacons like the kind skiers use in avalanches. Here, most of the last dozen alerts have been for trivial problems like bad-tasting water.

    Mr. PHILLIPS: There were only two where people really sustained an injury that required an emergency response.

    LEWIS: So the message from the rangers: Enjoy the parks, take home lots of digital memories, but just remember the safety rules.

    Unidentified Man: He may not be playing.

    LEWIS: For TODAY , George Lewis , NBC News , the Grand Canyon .

Photos: America's national parks

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  1. Acadia

    Acadia National Park in Maine boasts the highest mountain on the U.S. Atlantic Coast and was the first national park east of the Mississippi River. Visitors beware: temperatures can vary 40 degrees -- from 45 degrees to 85 degrees in the summer and from 30 degrees to 70 degrees in the spring and fall. (Gareth Mccormack / Lonely Planet Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Rocky Mountain

    Bear Lake, with mountainside aspens changing colors in mid-autumn, is one of the popular attractions in Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado. (Universal Images Group via Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. Badlands

    The climate in South Dakota's Badlands National Park is extreme. Temperatures range from minus 40 degrees in the dead of winter to 116 degrees in the height of summer. Visitors are drawn to the park's rugged beauty as well as the area's rich fossil beds. (Mark Newman / Lonely Planet Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Yosemite

    One of the nation's first wilderness parks, Yosemite is known for its waterfalls, scenic valleys, meadows and giant sequoias. (Robert Galbraith / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. North Cascades National Park

    The North Cascades National Park complex offers something for everyone: Monstrous peaks, deep valleys, hundreds of glaciers and phenominal waterfalls. The complex includes the park, Ross Lake and Lake Chelan National Recreation Areas. (David Mcnew / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. Zion

    This spectacular corner of southern Utah is a masterpiece of towering cliffs, deep red canyons, mesas, buttes and massive monoliths. (Mark Ralston / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Redwood

    Created in 1968, Redwood National Park is located in Northern California. Today, visitors to the national park can enjoy the massive trees as well as an array of wildlife. (David Gotisha / msnbc.com) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Joshua Tree

    Joshua Tree National Park is located in southeast California. The area was made a national monument in 1936 and a national park in 1994. Outdoor enthusiasts can go hiking, mountain biking and rock climbing. (Gabriel Bouys / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. Great Smoky Mountains

    Straddling the Tennessee-North Carolina border, Great Smoky Mountains National Park encompasses more than 800 square miles in the southern Appalachian Mountains. Visitors can expect mild winters and hot, humid summers, though temperatures can differ drastically as the park's elevation ranges from 800 feet to more than 6,600 feet. (AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. Arches

    More than 2,000 natural sandstone arches, many of them recognizable worldwide, are preserved in Utah's Arches National Park. Temperatures can reach triple digits in the summer and can drop to below freezing in the winter. (AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. Grand Teton

    The Snake River flows through Grand Teton National Park, and the jagged Teton Range rises above the sage-covered valley floor. Daytime temperatures during summer months are frequently in the 70s and 80s, and afternoon thunderstorms are common. (Anthony P. Bolante / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. Haleakala

    Visitors watch the sun rise at 10,000 feet in Haleakala National Park in Maui, Hawaii. If weather permits, visitors at the top of the mountain can see three other Hawaiian islands. (The Washington Post via Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. Grand Canyon

    Grand Canyon National Park is perhaps the most recognizable national park. Nearly 5 million visitors view the mile-deep gorge every year, formed in part by erosion from the Colorado River. The North and South rims are separated by a 10-mile-wide canyon. (Gabriel Bouys / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. Yellowstone

    Yellowstone National Park, America's first national park, was established in 1872. The park spans parts of Wyoming, Montana and Idaho. Grizzly bears, wolves, bison and elk live in the park. It is well known for Old Faithful and other geothermal features. (Mark Ralston / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. Mount Rainier

    Glaciers. Rainforests. Hiking trails. Mount Rainier National Park, located in Washington state, offers incredible scenery and a diverse ecology. The park aims to be carbon neutral by 2016. (National Park Service) Back to slideshow navigation
  16. Hawaii Volcanoes

    Two of the world's most active volcanoes can be found within Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. In 1980, the national park was designated an International Biosphere Reserve; in 1987, it was added as a World Heritage Site. (David Jordan / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  17. Everglades

    Everglades National Park covers the nation's largest subtropical wilderness. It is also a World Heritage Site, an International Biosphere Reserve and a Wetland of International Importance. Visitors to the park can camp, boat, hike and find many other ways to enjoy the outdoors. (Joe Raedle / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  18. Glacier

    A view from atop the Grinnell Glacier Overlook trail in Glacier National Park. With more than 700 miles of trails the park is known for its glaciers, forests, alpine meadows and beautiful lakes. (Matt McKnight / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  19. Bryce Canyon

    Located in southwestern Utah, Bryce Canyon National Park is known for its distinctive geological structures called "hoodoos." (Mark Ralston / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  20. Crater Lake

    The brilliant blue Crater Lake, located in southern Oregon, was formed when Mount Mazama, standing at 12,000 feet, collapsed 7,700 years ago after a massive eruption. Crater Lake is one of the world's deepest lakes at 1,943 feet. (David Gotisha / msnbc.com) Back to slideshow navigation
  21. Olympic

    Washington state's Olympic National Park offers visitors beaches on the Pacific Ocean, glacier-capped mountain peaks and everything in between. Keep the weather in mind when visiting, though, as roads and facilities can be affected by wind, rain and snow any time of year. (National Park Service) Back to slideshow navigation
  22. Sequoia and Kings Canyon

    A woman stands among a grove of a Giant Sequoia trees in Sequoia National Park in Central California. The trees, which are native to California's Sierra Nevada Mountains, are the world's largest by volume, reaching heights of 275 feet and a ground level girth of 109 feet. The oldest known Giant Sequoia based on its ring count is 3,500 years old. (Mark Ralston / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  23. Denali

    Alaska's Denali National Park spans 6 million acres and includes the 20,320-foot Mount McKinley, North America's tallest peak. Many park visitors try to catch a glimpse of the "big five" -- moose, caribou, Dall sheep, wolves and grizzly bear. (National Park Service) Back to slideshow navigation
  24. Kenai Fjords National Park

    The National Park Service considers the 8.2-mile round-trip on Harding Icefield Trail in Alaska's Kenai Fjords National Park to be strenuous, saying hikers gain about 1,000 feet of elevation with each mile. (National Park Service via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  25. Death Valley

    California's Death Valley encompasses more than 3.3 million acres of desert wilderness. In 1849, a group of gold rush pioneers entered the Valley, thinking it was a shortcut to California. After barely surviving the trek across the area, they named the spot "Death Valley." In the 1880s, native peoples were pushed out by mining companies who sought the riches of gold, silver, and borax. (Gabriel Bouys / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  26. Wind Cave

    Bison graze in Wind Cave National Park in the southern Black Hills of South Dakota. Millions of bison were slaughtered by white hunters who pushed them to near-extinction by the late 1800s. Recovery programs have brought the bison numbers up to nearly 250,000. (David McNew / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  27. Canyonlands

    The Lower Basins Zone is outlined by the white rim edge as seen from the White Rim Trail in Canyonlands National Park, Utah. (Doug Pensinger / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  28. Shenandoah

    Fall colors blanket the Shenandoah National Park, drawing tourists to Skyline Drive to view the scenery. (Karen Bleier / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
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