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Mass. casino foes calling for end to town talks with Foxwoods

By Brian Hallenbeck

Publication: The Day

Published 07/09/2013 12:00 AM
Updated 07/08/2013 11:29 PM

A group opposed to the Foxwoods Massachusetts casino project was to make its case Monday night for why the Milford Board of Selectmen should end the town's consideration of the

$1 billion proposal.

In a weekend news release, Casino-Free Milford says the group's co-chairman, Steven Trettel, believes "Foxwoods has been presenting misleading and manipulated data to the selectmen and the public."

Trettel, citing a "compressed schedule" the group contends leaves the town's consultants too little time to study the casino plan, "along with the continued instability of the Foxwoods organization," believes it is in the best interest of the town to cease discussions, the release says.

The selectmen were not expected to act on the group's recommendation.

"Speaking as one member of the board, I don't think we're in a position to discuss whether we should enter into discussions (with the Foxwoods Massachusetts partnership) until the plan stabilizes," William Buckley, the Board of Selectmen chairman, said Monday. "The proposal is just way too fluid. ... We just don't know what's changing next."

Since Foxwoods Massachusetts provided details of the plan at a public presentation June 3, it has had to alter the design of a road system that would funnel traffic to the casino site off Interstate 495, move structures closer to existing residences and modify the project's water usage projections.

"When you look at the details of what they presented June 3, they've significantly changed," Buckley said.

On June 17, Casino-Free Milford provided the selectmen with a 10-page evaluation of the Foxwoods Massachusetts proposal. The report claims Foxwoods presented misleading information about the town's water resources and underestimated the water needs of the casino project's first phase, which calls for 660,000 square feet of space encompassing slot machines, table games, a 350-room hotel, five restaurants, three lounges, a ballroom and retail shops.

"If Phase II is developed, the total demand for water will exceed the authorized allowance of our surface and groundwater resources," the group's evaluation says. "... Estimates of demand ignore all other future development in Milford."

The group also has raised questions about the proposed highway improvements, Foxwoods Massachusetts' traffic projections and a claim that the casino would provide 3,000 to 3,500 jobs paying an average salary of more than $50,000.

Foxwoods Massachusetts, which could end up competing with two other proposals for the one casino license the Massachusetts Gaming Commission will award for the Greater Boston region, must reach the host community agreement with the town, win local voters' support in a binding referendum and submit a final application to the state - all by the end of the year.

Buckley said the selectmen would probably be in a position to decide on whether to begin negotiating an agreement after a series of meetings this month with Foxwoods Massachusetts representatives and the town's consultants.

b.hallenbeck@theday.com

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