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Joint community meeting to address casino impact


May 31, 2013
By Carley Dangona

carley@thereminder.com

WEST SPRINGFIELD — West Side and Springfield will join forces to discuss the possible impact of the proposed casino sites and to start assessing the role of surrounding communities.

On May 29, the communities announced a joint meeting of the Springfield Casino Site subcommittee and the West Springfield Town Council Casino Mitigation subcommittee (TCCMC) would take place May 31 at 5 p.m. in the Springfield City Council chambers, 36 Court St., Springfield.

Brian Griffin, West Springfield Town Council vice president and chair of the TCCMC and Springfield City Council President James Ferrera III issued the following statement: "West Springfield and Springfield share a common history, a riverfront, and many employment, institutional, commercial, and entertainment resources. With Hard Rock International proposing a casino at the Big E and MGM Resorts International proposing a casino in downtown Springfield, the two communities may be sharing a casino as well.

"The two casino sites are approximately eight football fields apart. Two bridges, Interstate 91, and Route 5 link the two communities. Many West Springfield residents work in downtown Springfield and many Springfield residents shop in the Route 5 commercial strip in West Springfield. Two of the largest automobile dealerships in the region are located on [Route] 5 in West Springfield and a number of the largest employers in the region are located in Springfield.

"Because of the long-term connections and close proximity that exists between the two communities locating a casino in either one will have will have a substantial impact on the other. For this reason, the two casino committees have agreed to a joint meeting to explore common ground. We believe that as elected representatives of our communities our concern must be what is good for our residents, businesses, industries and institutions before we support a casino proposal."

On May 28, the TCCMC met to discuss the current progress of the Hard Rock proposal. A casino study session of the West Springfield Town Council immediately followed.

Griffin said that representative from Hard Rock attended the session as well. He stated the TCCMC would conduct weekly meetings every Tuesday.

"When the host community agreement arrives, we don't want to be behind the eight ball. [To be unprepared] would be totally unfair to all involved. We want to remain proactive," Griffin said.

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