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Milford

Casino team promises to increase water supply

A developer is proposing an $850 million resort-casino next to Interstate 495 in Milford.

Engineers representing Foxwoods Massachusetts say plans for water main upgrades and new wells in Milford will not only provide enough water for the proposed $1 billion resort casino off Interstate 495, but increase the town’s supply above current levels.

In addition, project engineer Sean Reardon, a vice president at TetraTech, said Foxwoods would extend the municipal sewer line to neighborhoods along Route 16 near its 187-acre site in the east side of town, make upgrades at the town’s water treatment plant and replace old, leaky sewer pipes across the community.

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Reardon estimated that the cost to Foxwoods for necessary water and sewer system improvements would be between $1 million and $3 million.

Details of the water and sewer plans for the proposed casino were presented at the second of four scheduled public meetings with Foxwoods engineers and the town’s consultants — paid for by Foxwoods — to give the Board of Selectmen and residents a chance to receive answers to their questions.

William Buckley, chairman of the Board of Selectmen, has said he opposes the casino, while Selectmen Dino DeBartolomeis and Brian Murray have said they want more information before making a decision.

But after Wednesday night’s meeting, DeBartolomeis and Murray said they are satisfied that the broad questions about the town having adequate water and sewer capacity for the complex’s proposed luxury hotel, restaurants, retail stores, and casino were answered.

“We want to make sure all the consultants agree, but I’m going in the direction that if the sewer commissioners feel confident, it’s something we can feel comfortable agreeing with,” DeBartolomeis said of the water and sewer plans presented.

135% replacement of water used by resort casino in Milford

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In addition, the two selectmen said the pieces for a potential host agreement with Foxwoods are being put into place, with traffic being the key stumbling block still unresolved.

“The process toward a host agreement has begun,” Murray said. “It’s not a negotiation. We’re putting blocks into place, determining what mitigation is needed.”

The agreement is also expected to include a schedule of payments to the town that David Nunes, chief development officer of the proposed casino, said recently could be more than $20 million annually.

If a majority of the three-member board votes to accept a host agreement with Foxwoods Massachusetts, a referendum on the proposal would be put before voters in a townwide election. If the agreement is approved, Town Meeting would also have to approve a zoning change to allow a casino before a completed application could go before the state Gaming Commission. Foxwoods is competing with proposals in Everett and East Boston for the single casino license in Eastern Massachusetts; the state commission anticipates making the decision early next year.

While Murray and DeBartolomeis heard positive news on the Foxwoods water and sewer mitigation plan, state Representative Carolyn Dykema, a Holliston Democrat and an early and ardent opponent of the casino, and several members of Casino-Free Milford said they are still unmoved.

“It’s still not clear, even at this late date, that the town’s water systems can accommodate this project,” she wrote in a statement to the Globe after the meeting. “The analysis was preliminary, but even the best-case scenario raises concerns about adequate reserves and fire suppression. I fully expect that water concerns will continue to be raised as a significant hurdle for this project.”

According to the Foxwoods analysis, production from all of the town’s water sources, including ground-water collection and wells, yields less water than they are capable of producing, or are authorized to produce by the Department of Environmental Protection.

By expanding well production at Godfrey Brook and/or the Dilla Street well, increasing the size of the Main Street water main, and using water conservation measures that include sending hotel and restaurant laundry elsewhere for cleaning, Reardon said, Foxwoods would produce 135 percent of the water it would use, with the surplus available to the town. The figure was increased from 120 percent after meetings with the town consultants.

David Goncalves, project manager with the town’s consultant, Tighe & Bond, agreed with the findings. “With the recommended improvements, and the costs borne by the developers, they will achieve sufficient water for the town’s current demands and the project’s demand,” he said.

David Condrey, general manager of the Milford Water Co., which provides the town’s supply, also concurred. “If we get the yields we anticipate getting, yes, I could be comfortable supplying the water needed for the casino,” he said.

The town’s sewer consultant, Jack O’Connell, senior vice president at Tata & Howard, wrote to the town that it “appears that there may be sufficient capacity’’ to add the casino if Foxwoods makes the significant improvements to the East Main Street pumping station and to waste-water pipelines that are in its proposal.

He also called for a detailed review of the system’s capacity.

The plan’s upgrades include installing meters in six locations across town to monitor where there are leaks in joints or sewer pipes, some 100 years old, that are allowing clean ground water to seep into the system and take up capacity at the treatment plant.

Before the state DEP would approve the plans, Foxwoods would have to show that for every 1 gallon of waste put into the system, the casino operation would take 5 gallons of the “inflow/infiltration” of clean water out of the system through repairs to pipes, disconnecting sump pumps, and fixing leaking manholes, Reardon said.

“Our project will be doing that,” he said.

The three-hour meeting ended before residents could ask question, so the next meeting, slated to focus on the social and economic effects of the project, including crime, will begin at 6 p.m. Wednesday, an hour earlier than usual, to continue the water discussion.

DeBartolomeis and Murray are focused on traffic, however.

The Foxwoods traffic plan includes adding connector lanes along I-495 that would provide access to Route 16 through the casino site.

Murray said while the plan looks workable, the anticipated traffic volume is still troubling. “We need more information on that; it’s a concern, definitely.’

Ellen Ishkanian can be reached at eishkanian@gmail.com.
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