Western Mass cities want regional approach to casinos - Western Mass News - WGGB/WSHM

Western Mass cities want regional approach to casinos

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WEST SPRINGFIELD, MA (WSHM) -

Springfield and West Springfield have two casino proposals not even two miles apart and four Western Mass towns want to make sure they get some of the dollars expected to come in.

"The regional approach we're trying to take on these casinos is very important," said West Springfield Town Councilor Brian Griffin.

West Springfield and Springfield city councilors have been meeting for months.

"Both are going to have impacts if Springfield or West Springfield are successful," said Springfield City Council President James Ferrera.

Now Longmeadow and Agawam officials want a seat at the table.

Longmeadow Town Manager Stephen Crane was at Wednesday night's casino meeting in West Springfield.

He wants to know his town will be getting some financial rewards if either Springfield or West Springfield get the casino license.

"We can tangibly relate to the impacts of traffic, public safety and water and sewer," he said.

Under Springfield and MGM Resorts' host agreement, Longmeadow would get $500,000 annually as a surrounding community.

Meantime, in Agawam, city councilors met to talk about impacts a West Springfield casino would have on their city.

Under Hard Rock's agreement with West Side, Agawam would get a percentage of $4.5 million a year plus $3.5 million every six years.

But city councilors there say it's not enough.

"Not sufficient. If they were to approve the casino in West Springfield, Agawam needs an annual sum to mitigate the negative impacts that are going to happen here," said Agawam City Council President Chris Johnson.

Still others are fighting the idea of one coming to the area altogether.

"It's going to be bring addiction, crime, it's going to hurt local businesses, it's going to bring a lot of traffic," said Nathan Blech, president of the anti-casino group No Casino West Springfield.

West Springfield voters will head to the polls Sept. 10 to vote on Hard Rock's proposal.

Springfield voters have already approved MGM's plans.

Palmer residents will head to the polls Nov. 5 to vote on Mohegan Sun's proposal.

Copyright 2013 WSHM (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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