BOSTON (WWLP) – The Massachusetts Gaming Commission dished out some mitigation money on Thursday. Mitigation money is for the potential negative impacts of a casino.
The Gaming Commission approved a recommendation from the Massachusetts Historical Commission, which will provide $350,000 to a soon to be created historical trust. That money will be spent on rehabbing historical and vacant buildings in Springfield within 5 miles of the casino site. MGM also agreed to pay $350,000 into that trust.
The Historical Commission is currently reviewing MGM’s proposal for the eight historical buildings on its site. After a meeting last week, it appears just some language in the agreement needed to be fine-tuned. Once that agreement is reached, MGM can begin knocking down some more of the buildings on its site.
The Gaming Commission also agreed to give West Springfield $98,500 of a requested $100,000 in mitigation funds.
The commission did not approve mitigation funds for Springfield’s casino liaison office, saying that that money should be taken out of the money the city will receive in its host agreement.
The commission also put on hold Hampden County Sheriff Michael Ashe’s request for money, until he presents a final plan for where the western Mass alcohol rehabilitation center will be housed permanently. “We’re waiting for the final details, we’ve indicated a willingness to participate but we want to see the whole final deal and make sure that everything is buttoned up before we make a final commitment,” said Gaming Commission Chairman Stephen Crosby.
Before the commission will vote on MGM’s request to delay their opening until September 2018 they will meet with both MassDOT and MGM to find out more information about the timeline of the I-91 construction through Springfield. The Gaming commission is waiting on a final schedule from MassDOT before making any decisions.
“They haven’t actually published a schedule yet, number 1 and number 2 how big a problem would the viaduct not being open be, could traffic flow properly even for a big event like the opening of a casino?,” said Crosby.
That highway project starts this month. The contractor is expected to finish it sometime between February and August of 2018.
Below is a statement from MGM Springfield Vice President and General Counsel Seth Stratton:
“MGM Springfield is pleased with the progress that was reported at today’s Massachusetts Gaming Commission hearing. We continue to work with the Commission staff and their consultants to facilitate the review of our project schedule and have it approved as soon as possible. We thank the Commission for its financial commitment to the Springfield Historic Preservation Trust Fund MGM has proposed, as well as its support of the agreement we reached with the Massachusetts Historical Commission.”