By Chris Maza
LONGMEADOW – Longmeadow officials formally submitted the town's petition requesting surrounding community status for MGM Springfield's proposed $800 million casino development in the city's South End on Jan. 13.
"The town's petition clearly details that there will be significant and adverse impacts as a result of the MGM Springfield development based on an independent peer review of the traffic and other data," Town Manager Stephen Crane told Reminder Publications
MGM, which was required by the state's gaming legislation to include surrounding community agreements within its RFA-2 Category 1 license application, reached agreements with Ludlow, Agawam, Wilbraham, East Longmeadow and Chicopee prior to submitting its application on Dec. 30, 2013. Since then, Holyoke and West Springfield were both designated surrounding communities.
Greenman-Pedersen Inc., the firm hired by the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission to peer review of MGM’s traffic study, identified Longmeadow as one of the communities that would be most affected by traffic generated by the casino. The town also hired its own consultants to weigh traffic and other impacts that could be created by the casino project.
However, the two sides were not able to agree on a mitigation arrangement.
MGM offered Longmeadow $125,000 for reimbursement of consulting and legal fees, $100,000 in guaranteed minimum annual mitigation payments, plus a total of $750,000 in payments over 13 years for reimbursement of costs associated with annual impact studies with one- and five-year “look backs.”
Longmeadow countered with a proposal in which the town would receive $950,000 in up-front payments for infrastructure improvements and up to $100,000 in payments to offset the legal and consulting costs, $500,000 in annual payments with 2.5 percent annual increases and periodic “look back” studies.
A public hearing will take place later this month and a determination will be made by early February.
"Longmeadow has been engaged in a fact-based approach to identify knowable, predictable impacts of the MGM development for several months," Select Board Chair Marie Angelides said. "We look forward to discussing the information in the petition with the Gaming Commission."
If the town receives surrounding community status, it would have 30 days to negotiate an agreement with MGM. After that time, the matter would move to binding arbitration.
For more on this story, read the Jan. 18 edition of The Reminder.