A casino in Palmer, Mass. would also be good for train service

We should all be rooting for the Mohegan Sun to win one of the three Massachusetts casino licenses that appear to be soon in the offing.

Isn't it better that the Mohegans win the license for a western Massachusetts casino, for the project they have been proposing for Palmer, Mass., than Hard Rock Hotel & Casino get it for the project they are proposing for Holyoke, Mass?

The three Massachusetts casinos - two others will be located in Boston and southeastern Massachusetts - are going to suck a lot of money out of the eastern Connecticut economy, any way you look at it.

Some analysts say up to a third of Connecticut's casino customers come from Massachusetts.

The Boston Herald has referred to the new legalization of casinos in the Bay State as Massachusetts hold-'em, as in keep those gaming dollars at home

So I guess I like the idea that one of the three new casinos might be owned by an eastern Connecticut tribe. Maybe they can direct some of the new customer base they develop there to the casino here.

At least if the tribe gets a little richer, tribal members can buy more cars and other stuff here.

Another good reason to root for Palmer is that they also have a Henry Hobson Richardson train station, not unlike the beauty in New London designed by the same Boston architect.

And even as the competition heats up for the gaming license for a western Massachusetts casino, work will continue on trying to restore passenger and freight service on the train line connecting New London and Palmer, before it goes on to Brattleboro, Vt.

Called the Central Corridor Line, it would run on existing track owned by the New England Central Railroad.

A bunch of municipalities and regional planning agencies representing communities along the corridor have pledged to work together to seek funding for the $100 million project.

The best part of this proposal is that it could happen pretty quickly, since the track is already laid. It could even happen in less time than it takes to build a casino.

The new rail line would not only help link a Mohegan casino in Palmer to the one in Montville, but it would link two Richardson train stations.

The one in New London, Union Station, is bigger and I'd say more beautiful. No doubt the Connecticut Mohegan Sun would be bigger, at least at first, than a Palmer casino.

The Richardson station in Palmer, also Union Station, is quite handsome, also sturdy and solid appearing, like all of Richardson's work. It was built in 1883, two years before the one in New London, which turned out to be Richardson's last station, before he died in 1887.

Richardson also designed a train station in Holyoke, Mass., which is now unused and boarded up.

It's true, therefore, that one of the other principal competitors for a western Massachusetts gaming license, Hard Rock, is proposing a casino near a Richardson train station.

But that would never be linked by rail to a Connecticut casino or another Connecticut Richardson train station.

Just another good reason, I suppose, to root for the Mohegans to win in Massachusetts.

This is the opinion of David Collins

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