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Casino host agreement: a work in process

Keeping its vow of making the process of reviewing the resort casino proposed to be built off Route I-495 as "transparent" as possible, the Board of Selectmen last week released to the public the initial draft of the proposed contract between Foxwoods Massachusetts and the Town of Milford. Selectmen Chairman William Buckley said he and his fellow board members will contribute their comments on the document – known as the "Host Community Agreement" – at their board meeting Monday, August 26.

Technically, legal documents in the process of being finalized do not have to be released to the public. However, Buckley sent the draft agreement to the four media outlets that regularly cover Milford in an August 15 e-mail that read: "Attached you will find an initial working draft of a Host Community Agreement. Thus far discussions to create this draft have been between Foxwoods Representatives and Legal Counsel for the town. The Milford Board of Selectman have yet to provide input to this 'draft working document.' Discussions on this draft will begin with Selectmen at our next regularly scheduled Meeting. The purpose of sharing this document is to maintain transparency with the public regarding discussions between Milford Town Representatives and from Foxwoods Casino Developers."

The draft agreement from the Chicago law firm Shefsky & Froelich – the lawyers representing the town – is dated August 14 and is 49 pages long, with the "meat" of the agreement contained in an attachment titled, "Exhibits to Milford HCA." Specific parts of the exhibits call for:

"Direct Community Impact Payments" which are broken down into "Upfront Payment" and "Annual Payments."

Upfront Payments: The Fire Department is seeking $1,722,500 in upfront payments. The $400,000 for uniforms and training for nine new firefighters is already agreed to by Foxwoods, with the balance of $1.3 million – for a new ladder truck and the rehabilitation of the Birch Street Fire Station – still under discussion. The Police Department would receive $338,500 to cover a new patrol car; a new patrol wagon, construction of the police firing range, nine sets of uniforms and equipment and two public safety remote radio receivers.

Annual Payments: The Fire Department would receive $1,115,000 to cover the salaries, benefits, pension, overtime .and uniforms for nine new hires. The Police Department would receive $1,425,000 to cover the salaries, benefits, pension, overtime and training for 13 new hires including officers and dispatchers, patrol car replacement vehicle gas and maintenance. The School Department would receive $121,000 for the cost of educating 20 new students at a cost of $6,046 per student. The school costs remain under negotiation. The town government would receive $200,000 to cover increased administrative costs.

Foxwoods would "exercise its best efforts to prioritize at least $50,000,000 of its annual biddable goods and services for local procurement." Negotiations are still underway to have Foxwoods assist with sponsorship and/or co-promotion of the Claflin Hill Symphony Orchestra, Greater Milford Community Chorus, Milford Performing Arts Center, and/or Milford Cultural Council and for Foxwoods to contribute funds to the Milford Area Chamber of Commerce or a similar organization to promote local businesses and tourism in the town.

Other parts of the agreement call for specific traffic, water, sewer, and stormwater improvements; noise, lighting and air quality standards; a traffic sound barrier along Route I-495; a $15 million Community Development Fund; a minimum $18-million annual payment to the town; and, a "Radius Restriction Agreement" that would set specific limits on the legal rights role of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation.




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