EAST SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WGGB) — Through the years, store fronts on Page Boulevard, across the street from the site of the proposed Ameristar casino, have mostly stayed full. Businesses there are mostly small and locally owned. We asked some of them if the Ameristar plan would hurt or help them.
Mark Raymond owns American Ice. He thinks it would be good not just for East Springfield, but for all of the city.
“There’s open property here,” said Raymond. “You don’t have to displace people. You don’t have to tear down buildings. It’s ready to build. If the reason is we want to get taxes to the state, then I would think these guys have the advantage because they could be up and running in 18 months.”
“And the fact that I know they’re going to working with the local unions to build the place,” said Raymond.
After seeing the final casino plan, the owner of Vito’s Barbershop changed his mind.
“At first I was against it because I was thinking it was going to hurt a lot of other businesses here, bars, restaurants, not per se my business as a barber. I didn’t think I had an issue there because I’ve been here 38 years. I think it’s going to be a lot better.”
The owners of Mimmo’s Pizza disagree. They were hoping the casino would help create more foot traffic for them and not take what they already have away. Even with a pedestrian type plaza at Ameristar Casino’s back entrance on Page Boulevard, they don’t think that will help since that’s exactly where the casino is planning to place some restaurants.
“Everything might stay within the casino instead of coming out into the community and the local businesses,” said Lila Riggio, co-owner of Mimmo’s Pizza. “All the small businesses might be hurt by that because we don’t get the people walking outside and coming into our business because they’re staying in the casino.”
Her hope is that Ameristar address the issue not just for her restaurant, but for others in the area, too.