Monson officials concerned with lack of casino discussions - CBS 3 Springfield - WSHM

Monson officials concerned with lack of casino discussions

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Leaders in town are not happy with the way they say they have been treated by Mohegan Sun, a company that wants to build a $1 billion casino just north of them in Palmer.

With a Dec. 31 deadline approaching for casino applications, town officials are concerned that their needs might not be met when it comes to the impact of the proposed casino.

The town's lawyer wrote a letter to the gaming commission this week, stating concerns that they have not yet spoken with the casino company.

"Other casino applicants, much earlier in the process, have initiated productive and initial discussions with impacted surrounding communities," said Jeffrey Fialky, whose firm represents the town.

Fialky told CBS 3 that those discussions need to happen soon.

"The timeframe in this case is very compressed," Fialky stated. "We have about 90 days left between now and when the casino application needs to be submitted by the applicant, and there's been no productive discussion."

In Fialky's letter to the gaming commission, he said rather than being open with the town, Mohegan Sun has held closed door meetings with the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission, with the PVPC representing all of the impacted communities.

"Yes, the timing is late," said Palmer Town Councilor Paul Burns. "It would certainly be nice if we could get everyone together in one room, but I think that's the purpose of the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission. They represent each of the communities in the area."

Burns said the casino is following the rules, as the PVPC was recommended by the gaming commission.

"When Mohegan Sun goes and does what the commission asks, the town of Monson is upset," said Burns. "I don't quite get it. It's a process that needs to be followed. It's not going to be perfect, but this is what the commission has asked for."

In a statement released to CBS 3 Thursday afternoon, Mohegan Sun echoed Burns' comments, stating:

"Mohegan Sun is mindful of the Gaming Commission's requirements that gaming applicants address significant impacts to surrounding communities. The Gaming Commission has recommended that regional planning authorities facilitate the process of determining impacts and we are interested in participating in the process organized by the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission.  We look forward to substantive discussions with nearby communities and are pleased that the PVPC is hosting a meeting with interested towns on October 9th."

Fialky said his letter does not represent the town being for or against the proposed casino.

Monson officials just want to make sure they are compensated from the impact of the project.

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