Wilbraham approves MGM surrounding community agreement - CBS 3 Springfield - WSHM

Wilbraham approves MGM surrounding community agreement

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WILBRAHAM, MA (WSHM) -

The town's selectmen approved their agreement with MGM unanimously Thursday night, but not before posing several questions the casino's representatives about the proposed $800 million project in Springfield.

The town agreed to a 15-year deal with the casino that would pay them $100,000 a year to address mitigation concerns.

The board believes the more important aspect will be agreed upon look-back studies after years one and five, to see if they need to ask MGM for more money.

"We were able to establish a framework for looking at problems that we don't even know that they might be at this point," said James Thompson, chairman of the select board. "This whole process has been so condensed."

That lack of time has been a cause for concern for many Western Massachusetts communities. Thompson said that what makes the studies so important.

"We've all got some common problems," Thompson stated. "We probably also have some unique problems. We want to have the ability to address those in the future."

The board would have liked a richer deal, but the town's attorney said with MGM as the lone casino standing in the region, they have a position of power.

"They don't want to look bad in front of the gaming commission, but at the same time, they don't have quite the same incentive to come to the table with more money," said attorney Jonathan Silverstein.

Despite their bargaining position, the town believes they made the right call in agreeing to the deal.

"If we do our due diligence, part of that is making sure our representatives at the state level understand our concerns and problems, I think the towns interests will be protected," said Thompson.

Agawam, Ludlow, and East Longmeadow have also accepted their surrounding community agreements.

MGM is looking to build a resort casino in the south end of downtown Springfield. MGM is the only western Massachusetts casino left fighting for a license.

MGM Springfield spokeswoman Carole Brennan released the following statement to CBS 3 after Thursday's agreement. "The MGM Springfield team feels good about the progress we have made with surrounding community agreements.  We are pleased that Wilbraham has become the fourth agreement we have reached, joining Ludlow, Agawam and East Longmeadow.  We've had an open, fair and transparent negotiating process with all four communities, and we hope similar efforts will lead to more surrounding community agreements in the coming weeks."

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