MGM casino question to appear on West Springfield ballot - CBS 3 Springfield - WSHM

MGM casino question to appear on West Springfield ballot

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WEST SPRINGFIELD, MA (WSHM) -

West Springfield residents may now get to vote on whether they want to see MGM Resorts build a casino in Springfield.

The town council unanimously voted Monday night to put a question on the Nov. 5 ballot.

Under MGM's agreement with Springfield, the casino company will shell out half a million dollars a year to six surrounding communities.

In West Springfield, they say that's not enough to take care of potential issues like traffic and crime.

"We're forced to put it on the ballot and have an initiative," said West Springfield Town Councilor Brian Griffin, who spearheaded the initiative to get a casino question on the ballot.

Griffin wants the people in his town to decide if they want MGM built in neighboring Springfield.

He says repeated attempts to reach out to the casino company have gone ignored.

"It's amazing to me how MGM from the city of lights has gone dark," he said.

Now West Side and seven other neighboring towns want answers saying their needs have been ignored.

In a statement sent to CBS 3 Springfield MGM Springfield Spokeswoman Carole Brennan said:

"We have met with Mayor Neffinger in West Springfield, as well as with the chief executives, or their designees, in all of Springfield's abutting communities. We continue to work with them to advance the required studies to assess the impact of MGM Springfield on their communities. It seems shortsighted to ask voters to formulate an opinion prior to having all of the pertinent information, including results from the comprehensive impact studies, which are under way. Still, we are confident that MGM Springfield's overwhelming positives -- thousands of jobs where they are most needed and $800 million of investment that will result in significant economic impact across the region -- will appeal to the voters on the West Side, just as they did to the City of Springfield's voters in July."

West Springfield town councilors say just having a bridge separating the two cities is not enough to protect them from any casino-related problems.

"Take a truly regional approach to this. I think the only way anything is going to be solved traffic-wise is regionally," said West Springfield Town Councilor George Kelly.

Springfield City Council President James Ferrera has been working closely with officials in West Side and agrees.

"MGM needs to be cognizant of the fact that they need to reach out to the surrounding communities and continue to answer their questions and show up to meetings," he said.

MGM has until Dec. 31 to reach agreements with surrounding towns.

Griffin says he's willing to sit down and talk at any time.

"We have been willing to sit down at the table with MGM, we express our willingness to sit down with MGM at any particular point in time," he said.

MGM is facing off against Mohegan Sun in Palmer.

Other towns that want to meet with MGM include:

  • Agawam
  • Chicopee
  • Northampton
  • Longmeadow
  • East Longmeadow
  • Wilbraham

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