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Neighboring towns consider casino impact, opposition

As Milford officials press for more details about the casino proposed in their town, selectmen in three neighboring communities are seeking funds to study the impact on their towns, and in one community, to campaign against it.

Holliston and Medway have articles on their Town Meeting warrants that, if passed, would study the local ramifications of the casino complex opening in Milford.

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In Medway, residents taking part in Special Town Meeting on May 13 will be asked to transfer $40,000 in unexpended legal funds from the current fiscal year “to support the research, evaluation, and investigation of potential casino impact on Medway.”

Selectmen are recommending the article be approved.

Holliston’s Finance Committee has recommended that Town Meeting, which opens Monday night, approve raising or transferring $100,000 for “conducting impact analyses relative to the proposed casino development.”

Meanwhile, an article at Hopkinton’s Town Meeting, also scheduled to convene Monday, seeks an unspecified amount of money to pay for the town’s legal and consulting expenses “associated with its opposition to the siting of a casino in Milford.”

Hopkinton’s selectmen unanimously voted to place the article on the warrant.

While the article does not specify a dollar amount, according to Jamie Hellen, operations assistant to the town manager, a motion seeking its approval will ask for $100,000.

Milford Town Administrator Richard A. Villani said he had no reaction to surrounding towns funding opposition to the casino.

“If they are designated as surround communities, they’re free to do what’s in the best interest in their communities,” he said.

Villani said that his town is “waiting for the developers to come back with full plans” that include impact studies on traffic, water, and schools.

“We’re talking a while here,” he said. “Getting the license — if we are even granted a license — is way off.”

Villani said the developers have rented a storefront office on Main Street so the public can speak with them about questions or concerns.

At an April 8 hearing, the chairman of Milford’s Board of Selectmen, Brian W. Murray, said he had seen no substantive effort to show firm details of the resort casino project, which was first proposed in 2009, or to address the town’s concerns.

The $1 billion complex would consist of a gaming and hotel facility on about 210 acres alongside Interstate 495, near Route 16.

At the April 8 hearing, representatives of Connecticut’s Foxwoods Resort Casino said they anticipate the casino would be approximately 300,000 square feet, and include a gaming floor with 4,725 slot machines and 125 table games, a 350-room hotel, specialty restaurants, and entertainment.

Foxwoods became the primary developer after the casino’s original proponent, Colorado developer David Nunes, lost control of the venture in March.

A group opposing the venture, Casino-Free Milford, has started an online petition for residents of Milford, Hopkinton, Holliston, Upton, Bellingham, Hopedale, Millis, Ashland, Franklin, and Medway at Change.org.

The petition, addressed to the governor, Legislature, and state gaming commissioner, says a casino would be “an assault on our quality of life,” and had 2,000 electronic signatures as of March 31.

John Swinconeck can be reached at JohnSwinc@ gmail.com
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