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Agawam Launches Casino Commission

Casino overlay on ESE property

Casino overlay on ESE property

AGAWAM, Mass (WGGB) –

Mayor Richard Cohen says Agawam handles 17 days of traffic from the Big E every year. It’s the other 348 he’s worried about if the Big E builds a Hard Rock Casino.

“I’m not saying I’m for it or I’m against, but I do know our community voted it down in the past and I have my concerns as to the traffic and the impact,” Cohen said.

Cohen formed a three person casino effect committee to represent the town’s interests. It includes City Councilor Paul Cavallo, School Committee member Wendy Rua, and City Clerk Richard Thoreau.

“I wanted the three people to sit at the table with Big E, with Hard Rock, and any other interested parties,” Cohen said.

One of Cohen’s biggest concerns: How the casino could hurt Six Flags, he says the company has worked to improve local roads and is generous to town charities.

“Hard rock, as we know, part of their plan is to build a venue and to have performances there- named performances,” Cohen said. “That can cut into six flags. The traffic congestion can cut into Six Flags.”

Town officials acknowledge they have no say in if a casino comes to the Big E or not. They can only promise one thing:

“We’re pleased that they invited us in and we’re going to be at the table, and we’re going to fight for the town of Agawam,” Thoreau said.

Big E President and CEO Eugene Cassidy said in a statement today “The Big E and Hard Rock are working on a comprehensive traffic mitigation plan that will improve traffic in both Agawam and West Springfield and the casino project will be the catalyst for providing funding to improve the traffic situation for both communities which previously has not been addressed due to the lack of federal and state funding available to resolve these issues.”