Chicopee officials spar over casino talks - Western Mass News - WGGB/WSHM

Chicopee officials spar over casino talks

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It's one city, but two Chicopee officials have two very different ideas for its future.

"The reality is that there are people that are interested," said Chicopee Mayor Michael Bissonnette.

Bissonnette says he's been in talks with casino developers and is continuing to push for a casino to be developed at the former Cabotville Industrial Park downtown.

"The fact is that any time a developer is talking about 1,500 to 2,000 jobs or $20 to $25 million in revenue and says 'Let's talk to the Mayor of Chicopee,' I'm going to have that discussion," Bissonnette said.

But state Rep. Joe Wagner, who co-authored the states expanded gaming legislation, calls the mayor's casino advances "misleading" to the people of Chicopee.

"I just think there's been a lot of talk about casinos in Chicopee without anyone stepping up and saying we've got a developer," he said.

After Penn National Gaming's proposal was dropped by Springfield, there was speculation that they may be interested in Chicopee.

Wagner claims that's not true, and he wants the casino race left out of his city.

"We're just so far behind in this process. It's time to just put up or shut up."

Bissonnette says that if someone comes forward, he'll hear them out.

"Chicopee has two tracks. One is any developer is going to get the opportunity to pitch to us. Second, we have to negotiate mitigation agreements with adjoining agreements, adjoining developers that might impact Chicopee negatively."

The two are also disagreeing over the location of Cabotville Park. Wagner says it's far too small for a casino development.

Bissonnette says it can be developed.

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