Traffic study details casino impact

LONGMEADOW, Mass. (WWLP) – MGM is hoping to complete its surrounding community agreements before it hands in its final casino application. That’s due before the end of the year.

The 22News I-Team discovered a new report that gives Springfield’s neighboring towns a better look at how a casino could impact them. The report is warning some towns not to jump at just any offer.

MGM Springfield has agreed to five surrounding community agreements using a “look back” approach; Ludlow, Wilbraham, East Longmeadow, Agawam and most recently Chicopee. A look back approach allows MGM and communities to mitigate actual impacts one and five years after a casino opens.

“Moving forward this gives us a floor in which Chicopee is guaranteed some annual income but removes any ceiling on what we can get once we gather the data,” said Chicopee mayor Michael Bissonnette.

If MGM and a town can’t come to an agreement, that wouldn’t stop a casino from being built. MGM will designate surrounding communities in its casino applications. Communities that aren’t designated will have to petition the Gaming Commission to become one.

If MGM and any designated surrounding community can’t reach an agreement, an arbitrator will get involved. In that situation, the town is assuming a lot of risk financially.

“We weren’t sure that the look back approach would work for us,” said Longmeadow Town Manager Stephen Crane.

Longmeadow turned down MGM’s first offer. Crane told 22News the town is working off the results of a traffic study that MGM proposed each town do.

The report by Greenman-Pedersen, Inc. recommends not relying solely on a look-back approach, but rather a hybrid method where upfront money can be spent on known infrastructure needs, and a look back method for other impacts that aren’t as clear.

“The study identified specific things that we should be doing to our infrastructure to make us ready for the casino when it opens,” said Crane.

Longmeadow is looking for close to $1 million for infrastructure improvements, plus half a million dollars a year for other impacts.   MGM rejected Longmeadow’s counter proposal. MGM is offering communities much less up front money with it’s look back approach.

The study says West Springfield would be impacted the most by casino traffic.

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