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Town signs Surrounding Community agreement

Dec. 20, 2013
By Carley Dangona


AGAWAM MGM Springfield and the town have reached an agreement to mitigate the impact the proposed resort-casino is built in Springfield.

Mayor Richard Cohen announced earlier this month that the Town of Agawam and MGM Springfield have signed a Surrounding Community Agreement.

In November, MGM Springfield and Six Flags New England officially entered into a co-branding partnership of which the details have yet to be released. A total of $2.3 million would be awarded to Agawam over a period of years.

The highlights of the agreement are as follows:

"The town will receive guaranteed payments following the issuance of the gaming license to MGM, totaling $2.3 million to be used by the town in its discretion, payable as 1) $125,000 upon issuance of the license, 2) $100,000 annually for 15 years, and 3) $750,000 paid pursuant to a schedule under the agreement:

MGM will pay all of the town's legal and consulting expenses incurred in studying the impacts and negotiating the agreement;

The town will additionally be paid annually for any net adverse material impacts determined by an independent consultant selected by both the town and MGM, as measured after the first year of the MGM casino operation and again after the fifth year of casino operation;

The agreement assures the town that MGM will not, prior to submission of its gaming application, enter into a mitigation agreement with another abutting community with more favorable payment terms; and

The town will reserve all rights to apply to the Commonwealth for access to state mitigation funds including the 'Community Mitigation Fund' established under the Gaming Act."

When asked what projects the town would utilize the money for, Cohen responded, "I'm not going to knee-jerk react on that matter." The mayor said the town will wait to assess its needs before determining how the money would be used. Just because the funds are available does not mean it has to be spent immediately," Cohen added.

MGM seeks the sole gaming license for a development in Western Massachusetts and anticipates that the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) will announce its selection in April 2014.

If chosen, MGM would build a 14.5-acre, $800 million resort between Union and State streets, and Columbus Avenue and Main Street. The MGC has since announced that MGM passed the vetting portion of the application.

"We have no say in whether a casino comes to Springfield," Cohen said, emphasizing that the decision was up to the Springfield residents, who voted in favor of the MGM proposal.

"We literally have no say. I wanted to make sure our businesses are protected and our community is protected," he added.

Cohen stressed that the laws regarding surrounding communities limit what they can get from the agreements.

"I hope it [the agreement] will strengthen the viability of the Pioneer Valley," Cohen said. "Now, we just have to sit back and wait [to see if MGM Springfield is chosen."

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