City Council authorizes city-wide casino vote - Western Mass News - WGGB/WSHM

City Council authorizes city-wide casino vote

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Springfield City councilors unanimously voted Monday night to allow all city residents to decide whether or not they want a casino in town.

For months now, city councilors have been meeting with residents neighborhood by neighborhood to find out whether they prefer a city-wide vote for a casino or a ward-specific vote.

They found an average of 98 percent of people at each meeting prefer a city-wide vote.

"It's a city-wide project, it should be a city-wide vote," said City Council Member Bud Williams.

Williams conducted each of the meetings held throughout the city's neighborhoods that showed that a majority of the citizens want everyone in the city to have a voice when it comes to casinos.

"We needed to show the citizens that we're committed to this and we're committed to making sure they all have a voice," said City Council Member John Lysak.

Across the city, a majority of residents seem to agree.

"I think the whole city should have a say in whether or not the casino should be built," said Joseph Lopez.

Williams said that residents in the North End and South End seemed to be the only ones who were more likely to favor a ward-specific vote.

"They feel they should have some kind of understanding that whatever they said should carry more weight," Williams said.

"It does impact the entire city however special preference should be made for those residents that live in the immediate area that their opinions really should play a strong impact," said Alycia Crosby, who favors a ward-specific vote.

Now with that vote behind them, city councilors say they can work harder on the casino process and bring the best proposal to the voters.

"The residents know exactly what it is now, now it's up to the city council to continue to work with the mayor and make sure we get the best possible project for the city," Williams said.

Mayor Domenic Sarno will decide in the coming weeks whether both MGM and Penn National will move onto the ballot or whether one will be eliminated.

The city-wide vote is expected to happen sometime in June.

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