|By Chris Maza|
LONGMEADOW – The Select Board agreed upon a short list of potential firms to act as special counsel to aid in negotiations regarding a surrounding community agreement with MGM Springfield.
Representatives from Bacon Wilson P.C. of Springfield, Pannone Lopes Devereaux & West LLC of Providence, R.I., and Murphy Hesse Toomey & Lehane of Quincy will appear before the board at its next scheduled meeting on Sept. 16, Town Manager Stephen Crane told Reminder Publications.
“I would expect a vote on special counsel will be made that day,” he said.
Overall, Crane said good progress was being made in answering some of the questions raised at the previous Select Board meeting and he and the board would “continue to push through as diligently as we can.”
Timothy Brennan, executive director of the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission (PVPC) also appeared before the board at its Sept. 9 meeting and told them he expected the traffic studies associated with the casino mitigation process may be completed by mid-November. The PVPC is currently in the process of identifying consultants to perform the work that did not have conflicts. Crane said that he initially misunderstood and misrepresented the PVPC’s role in the process, which Brennan corrected.
“MGM is doing a study, which is not a stand alone document, but rather part of their Environmental Impact Report (EIR) that they have to deliver to the state. That report is almost completed,” he said. “The PVPC will then do a peer review of those findings.”
Crane went on to say that MGM is expected to have its EIR submitted to the state by mid-September, putting them “the farthest ahead of anyone else,” according to representatives at the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC).
The board also again considered a motion to hire its own traffic consultant, however, that motion was defeated 4-1.
“As I explained to the board, a traffic study could cost the town upwards of $30,000 and there’s a chance we wouldn’t get that money back from the casino,” Crane said.
Crane also said that he expressed the towns concerns with meeting deadlines related to casino mitigation agreements with MGC Chairman Stephen Crosby, who told him, “Don’t panic about the timeline.”
“He told me, and I’m quoting here, ‘If the timeline is not working, we will move the deadline,’” Crane said.
The Select Board also approved an operational facilities analysis for the purpose of determining the needs of a new Department of Public Works (DPW) Facility.
“Basically there are metrics that determine how many Parks Department workers you need per certain amount of space and how many plows you need per certain amount of road and things like that,” he said. “Essentially what we’re going to do is bring in a consultant to determine if the DPW we have is operating in the way we need it to before building a facility that isn’t going to adequately suit the town’s needs.”
The selectmen, who unanimously supported it, also ratified a new Police Department patrolman’s contract.
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