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Foxwoods Unveils Casino Plans

Before hundreds of people gathered in the Milford High School auditorium, representatives of Foxwoods Massachusetts unveiled their resort casino plans to the Board of Selectmen on June 3. Foxwoods CEO Scott Butera termed the proposal – designed to reflect the "New England heritage" – as being "totally unlike anything else that's in the gaming business."

Referring back to an April meeting with selectmen at which Foxwoods Massachusetts officials were criticized for being short on specifics, Butera noted, "We're not about pretty pictures today. This is about blood and guts and rolling up your sleeves." After listing efforts to date regarding issues such as traffic, power line relocation, water and sewer demands and stormwater management, Butera said, "nothing that came out of it said 'couldn't do it.' We're in a great position to do what we want to do."

"It's only a beginning," Selectman Dino DeBartolomeis said after the presentation. "Anything you said tonight, please back it up with specifics." Selectman Brian Murray told Butera he was "on the right track," but said the meeting's format didn't allow people to delve into specifics. "From an overall hard concept, I'm very encouraged with your proposal, but the devil is in the details." Chairman William Buckley said Foxwoods Massachusetts needed to clearly delineate what would be done during each of two proposed phases of construction, and as confused by the presentation about traffic impacts. "It's going to take some time for us to digest it," he said about the presentation.

As outlined by Butera and his engineers and architects, the resort casino would be built in two phases. The 660,000-square foot Phase I would have 4,250 slot machines and 175 table games, a 350-room hotel, five restaurants, three lounges, 25,000 square feet of ballroom space, 25,000 square feet of retail space and parking garages for 2,800 cars. Butera said the various elements combined were "fully integrated resorts that happen to have a gaming element," and pointed out the Milford proposal would be less than one-tenth the size of the 8 million square-foot resort casino Foxwoods has in Connecticut.

No specific time was given to construct the proposed 405,000 square-foot Phase II, which would add another 1,200 slot machines and 65 more table games, plus another 350 hotel rooms, three restaurants, two lounges 15,000 square feet of ballroom space, 15,000 square feet of retail space and parking garages for another 1,400 cars.

Access to the site would be from a two-lane "collector/distributor" road built on both sides of Interstate Route 495and linking the existing Route 109 exit (Exit 19), a new "flyover" exit at Route 16 and the existing Route 85 exit (Exit 20). Traffic engineers projections of how people would drive to and from the site drew outright laughter from those in the audience: 68 percent coming from the north on I-495, 24 percent from the south on I-495, and only one percent from the west on Route 16, two percent from the east on Route 16, three percent from the east on Route 109, one percent from Route 85 and one percent from local traffic.

Only 10 percent of the roughly 200-acre site would be developed, with the rest used for indoor and outdoor recreation activities, such as mountain biking and hiking.

In terms of mitigation to the community, Butera discussed a $1-million to $20-million annual payment to the town, a separate $2.5-million annual payment to the town for police and fire services, plus the building of a public safety substation at the casino site, a "significant" initial "community enhancement fee" to the town, possible grants and funding for the town's schools, and the creation of 3,000 jobs.

Selectmen Create Website for All Casino Information

Pledging "total transparency," the Milford Board of Selectmen through Town Administrator Richard Villani has set up an area of the town's website for anyone to see what Villani termed "any and all information that we gather" about the Foxwoods Massachusetts resort casino proposal. The website can be found at: and already includes the 74-slide presentation given by Foxwoods Massachusetts officials to selectmen on June 3.

Audience Skeptical,

Critical of Casino Presentation

Most of the audience gathered in the David I. Davoren Auditorium at Milford High School on June 3 listened quietly as officials from Foxwoods Massachusetts gave their roughly two hour-long presentation detailing plans for a resort casino in Milford. However, all but one of the 22 or so people who asked questions after the presentation were dead-set against it.

"We don't need it in Milford," said Joseph Cosentino of Fountain Street. Maria Valenca of Bear Hill Road voiced the opposite view.

Among the speaker's comments and concerns were:

• The proximity of the proposed collector/distributor lanes to nearby houses;

• Whether the Mashantucket Pequot tribe would declare the land a "sovereign state";

• The criminal history of some members of the tribe;

• Foxwoods' current financial situation;

• Potential increases in drunk driving and criminal activities;

• The validity of the traffic study presented;

• Increased air pollution from the increased traffic;

• The ability of the town to verify the numbers and types of jobs were created;

• The impact of construction of neighboring homes;

• An increase in people addicted to gambling; and,

• The ability of Route I-495 to handle any more traffic.


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