Protesters Greet Holyoke Mayor at Press Conference
HOLYOKE, Mass. (WGGB) — As Mayor Alex Morse was inside his office at a press conference explaining why he’s changed his mind in support of casinos, voters were outside explaining why they’ve changed their mind about Morse. Morse ran for office pledging to oppose any casino development. Some even campaigned for him based on that.
“I knocked on doors for him,” said Hazel Rosario. “I voted for him. I feel disappointed. I feel hurt.”
“I see the homeless kids in the street,” she said. “I see kids that are hungry. So, what’s going to happen when they open this casino? I feel there’s going to be more hunger, more parents are going to be going out there in the casino.”
Some of the most upset people were those from Ward 7 which includes Mountain Park. That’s where developer Eric Suher wants to build a casino. Morse said he changed his mind in favor of a casino after discussing Suher’s plan with him.
“He vocalized a vision for Holyoke which clearly did not include a casino,” said Joe O’Neill who lives in Ward 7.
“I’m just very disturbed that at this late date, he has a couple of one on one’s with the businessman and decides now we need a casino,” said O’Neill.
City councilors who were kept in the dark for months were also upset. The mayor said he was in conversations with Suher about a casino beginning in September. Councilors were only made aware of the talks over the weekend.
“It kind of makes you think, what really is going on behind the scenes?,” said Todd McGee, Holyoke Ward 6 Councilor.
McGee and City Council President Kevin Jourdain are forming a casino subcommittee to get answers for themselves and voters.
“We can ask him and anybody else that’s involved with this to give us this information to get it out in front of the public so they can make an informed decision if he’s going to put this on the ballot,” said Jourdain.
Evaluating the casino proposal by Eric Suher or any other ones is going to take the sub committee time. And time is not on their side with such late notice from the mayor. By January 15, any preliminary casino plan has to be submitted to the state. Jourdain said they won’t be forced to make any quick decisions.
“At the end of the road here if we can’t have a properly vetted proposal that’s in the best interests of the people of Holyoke, maybe we don’t go forward. Maybe this is already too late.”
Jourdain said he will officially call for the formation of the subcommittee when the council meets December 4.