Foxwoods tells Milford, Mass., resort would mean 3,500 jobs

Milford, Mass. — Foxwoods Massachusetts officials promised the locals Monday night that given the chance they’d build them an economic engine that would provide 3,500 permanent jobs and up to $20 million a year and “look like it had been here forever.”

Addressing the Board of Selectmen and a nearly full high school auditorium, Scott Butera, the Foxwoods Resort Casino chief executive, described the $1 billion project as a fully integrated resort that would just happen to have gaming.

“The casino element tends to be over-emphasized,” Butera said.

Several Foxwoods Massachusetts executives followed Butera to a podium to discuss aspects of the project, including plans to handle traffic, supply water and sewer service and otherwise mitigate impacts. They provided the kind of detail that was lacking when Butera appeared before the selectmen eight weeks earlier, soon after Foxwoods announced its involvement in the project.

“This was different,” William Buckley, chairman of the Board of Selectmen, said during a break. “I heard numbers, the size, the scope. They obviously spent some time on this; it was thoughtful.”

Buckley said the selectmen would need time to digest the presentation before deciding whether to begin negotiating a “host community agreement” with the developers, a required phase of a casino-licensing process being overseen by the Massachusetts Gaming Commission.

Foxwoods is vying for the one license the commission will award for the Greater Boston region.

Foxwoods, whose owner, the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe, has been trying to conclude a massive debt restructuring, also is seeking to get involved in a casino project in New York’s Catskills region, Butera said, but not as a back-up plan should the Milford proposal fail.

“This is a very high priority for us,” Butera said of Foxwoods Massachusetts. “We like the Catskills, too.”

Proposed for a 187-acre site off Interstate 495 in the northeast corner of Milford, Foxwoods Massachusetts would feature “a truly revolutionary design” that would have more in common with a college campus than a Las Vegas edifice, Butera said.

The developers’ architect, David Hancock, said the resort would be built in two phases and that building would take place on 10 percent of the site with the rest remaining as open space. Substantial buffers would separate the resort from residential areas.

Foxwoods has scrapped plans for a dedicated highway ramp to the site, opting instead for a system of high-speed connector roads to funnel traffic to the project.

In addition to providing the town with $20 million a year in tax revenue, the finished resort casino would purchase about $50 million a year in goods and services from local vendors and suppliers, the developers said.

Opponents and supporters of the project picketed outside Milford High School, both sporting professionally made signs.

Joe Broderick, a union carpenter who said he lived in a neighboring town, carried a pro-Foxwoods sign.

“This is a great opportunity for us,” he said of the project, which would provide at least temporary jobs for tradesmen.

John Seaver, co-chairman of the group Casino-Free Milford, an opposing group, said he recognized only one of the people carrying the pro-Foxwoods signs.

“They’re from out of town,” he said. “They’re trying to make it look good but it’s not working.”

b.hallenbeck@theday.com

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