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Selectmen meet with Foxwoods’ officials

After listening to members of Casino-Free Milford discuss their opposition to its resort casino proposed to be built off Interstate Route 495 with the Board of Selectmen on July 8, Foxwoods Massachusetts officials had their say at the board's next scheduled meeting on July 22. [Editor's Note: Please see related story in this issue.] Saying he thought the opponents' concerns were founded on fear, CEO Scott Butera said, "We do recognize the concerns of the community."

Noting that Milford has required a far more thorough review of the Foxwoods' proposal than required by other communities being courted by casino operators, Butera commented that "this process has been a very complete one." Foxwoods' attorney, Robert Allen, also recognized that all the work going into the reviews would have to be done in the other communities before their so-called "Phase II" proposals can be submitted to the Massachusetts Gaming Commission in December.

Before the Foxwoods officials talked to the board, Peter Scandone of Whitewood Road presented selectmen with a petition signed by 27 business owners in Milford and surrounding towns, who he said were "adamantly opposed" to the casino coming to Milford because it would cause them to lose customers and have to compete for staff. Responding to that, Butera noted, I don't see us competing for customers and employees because we have a different product."

"This isn't about [just meeting] the minimum standard. It's about making Milford great," Butera said. "From our perspective, we feel very good about where we are," he said. "If we're unsuccessful getting through all this, it will make us a healthier and better project."

Engineer Sean Reardon of TetraTech, Inc. – Foxwoods Massachusetts' consulting engineers – Butera and Allen went through several pages of information they said rebutted claims made by Casino-Free Milford earlier in the month. Allen also gave selectmen on update on key dates in the state's casino selection process:

• Phase I financial evaluation by the Massachusetts Gaming Commission – now being wrapped up by the state agency;

• Host Community Agreement between Foxwoods Massachusetts and the Town of Milford – would need to be completed by the end of August;

• Town-wide Referendum – would need to be held on the first Tuesday in November;

• Phase II casino application – needs to be submitted to the Massachusetts Gaming Commission on or before December 31; and,

• April, 2014 – Massachusetts Gaming Commission announces which companies will receive resort casino licenses.

"I think there is a good economic opportunity for the town if we can pull this off," Butera said, referencing the amounts of money the town would receive from the casino in terms of annual tax revenues and mitigation payments.

Selectman Dino DeBartolomeis said the potential for increased traffic concerned him: "I still lose sleep over [it.] I can't get my hands around it. I need some more time. I need some more info," he added. Selectman Brian Murray echoed those concerns about traffic, but said anything built on the site – currently zoned for business parks – would cause increases in traffic. He also voiced his concern about the casino's site being shifted closer to Wildwood Drive residents' homes. "There's clearly impact to the neighbors," he said.

Chairman William Buckley – who is opposed to the casino – asked Reardon if the proposed collector distributor lanes to be built on Route I-495 by Foxwoods could be compared to the Lowell Connector further north on the highway, and Reardon agreed that it could. He also said Buckley was correct in saying the casino company is projecting 7 million visits annually to the casino. Buckley said "the concept of a Lowell Connector on top of the 495 thing is a hassle."




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