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W. Spfld. Committee Makes Recommendations for Casino Host Agreement

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WEST SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WGGB) – A committee asked to make recommendations for what should be in West Springfield’s possible host agreement with Hard Rock has issued their findings.

Brian Griffin, chairman of the town’s casino mitigation committee, sent a four-page letter to Mayor Gregory Neffinger Friday with what they think should be part of the agreement.

The committee is recommending several financial payments be made by Hard Rock to the town, including:

  • An annual payment in lieu of taxes, with a percentage of that money towards reducing residential and business property taxes.
  • “Community Enhancement Fee” – paid over a term of two years, for capital improvements in town that will need to be made across town, including the area around the casino.
  • “Community Impact Fee” – An amount of money paid every year, with a 2.5 percent increase each year. This funding, according to the letter, would be used for the “manpower, technology, and equipment needed each year that would not otherwise be needed if such a facility was not built.”

The committee would also like to see several community initiatives as part of the host agreement, including the establishment of a foundation, which would be funded with $250,000 a year with a 2.5 percent increase per year, which would go to supporting local groups.

A ten person committee would oversee that foundation.

“The thought is that we need to focus on the Boys and Girls Club, Pawcatuck YMCA site, Park and Recreation scholarships, and local services to the Senior Center and Library,” Griffin says in the letter.

Griffin adds that “Hard Rock shall design, install and maintain an outdoor skating rink for public use during the winter season to be located on the Project Site.” The casino operator must also sponsor or hold an annual hockey festival at the site.

Hard Rock would be required to open the rink the first winter after the casino opens and continue operations for at least five years.

With regards to the arts, the committee notes that Hard Rock should periodically host or provide space for community-related shows, exhibits, and concerts, as well as either sponsor shows or use the Majestic Theater.

The committee also recommends that Hard Rock “work in a good faith, legal and non-discriminatory manner” to hire West Springfield residents in the development process, as well as for permanent jobs.

Neffinger is still in the process of negotiating a host agreement with Hard Rock – an agreement that is needed before the residents of West Springfield vote in a binding referendum on whether they want a casino.

Hard Rock is competing with MGM and Mohegan Sun for the lone casino license for western Massachusetts.

To read the complete letter with all the recommendations to Mayor Neffinger, CLICK HERE.


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