Response from the Select Board
The article “Casino criticizes Select Board for Delaying agreement” requires a response from the Longmeadow Select Board. At the first meeting between MGM and Longmeadow at which mitigation discussions were held, MGM officials make it very clear that they would only consider mitigation requests that were based on facts, not opinions, perceptions or “wish lists.” Among the facts that were to be considered were changes to traffic and other environmental impacts, both of which MGM, according to them, was uniquely qualified to develop. Who better to know the impacts of a casino, they argued, than someone in the casino business?
It was this insistence by MGM that mitigation discussions be factually based that caused the officials in the Town of Longmeadow to hire independent consultants qualified to review the MGM provided data. These consultants were charged with providing the facts, not opinion, upon which Longmeadow would base its mitigation requests. While waiting for these data from MGM, other communities have chosen to sign surrounding community mitigation agreements with MGM that apparently had no basis for the settlement offer.
For weeks Longmeadow representatives requested the promised data from MGM, during which time MGM made a secondary offer to Longmeadow (again with no factual basis) and settled with still other communities. Only when Longmeadow representatives prepared to ask the Mass Gaming Commission to find MGM bargaining in bad faith for their refusal to provide promised data was the traffic data released.
In the past week since MGM’s traffic data and environmental impact report have been released, Longmeadow’s consultants have been working diligently to assess and critique the data. From this evaluation Longmeadow officials are now able to approach MGM with a fact based mitigation request. Based on the facts that have been gathered and assessed, the MGM Springfield casino will impart a substantial impact on the town, and Longmeadow’s mitigation request will be larger than MGM’s prior offers.
MGM asked that negotiations be based on facts. They delayed in providing data that they claimed to be uniquely qualified to supply, and now are criticizing us for waiting for the data before we entered final negotiations. Our “delay” was one week after receiving the data they promised months ago.
In retrospect, MGM has been doing just what they should, working to minimize any payments they must make to surrounding towns as part of the state mandated mitigation agreements. Longmeadow, however, has also been doing just what we should, working to assure that to the extent possible, every impact of a casino on the town is identified, quantified, and incorporated into our mitigation request. The characterization of our doing our homework as an “adversarial posture” is nothing more than MGM working to deflect public opinion from their own delays in providing promised information and their actions to minimize mitigation payments.
Your article presented only MGM’s opinion of the course of these negotiations. The public deserves to understand both sides of this complex issue.