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Q & A: The case against a casino in Milford

John Seaver (left) and Steven Trettel, co-chairmen of Casino-Free Milford

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John Seaver (left) and Steven Trettel, co-chairmen of Casino-Free Milford

Q. Is Milford a good location for a casino?

Seaver: A small town like Milford can’t handle a facility like a casino with its impacts on our infrastructure as well as the negative impacts of falling property values and increased crime.

Trettel: Everyone knows everyone in Milford. It’s a small town, and that is going to be lost. Just look at the numbers and you can see the immensity of the project, compared to our size — the number of visitors a year is estimated at 7 million, and our population is 26,500. We’ll double our population every day, 365 days a year. And I’d say the same thing if it was Disney World proposing to come here.

Q. What would be the most significant impact of a casino on the residents of Milford?

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Seaver: Traffic is the number one issue.

Trettel: The majority of the $100 million they say will be spent on traffic improvements, 99 percent of it, is going to go for construction of what I’ll call the on and off ramps to the casino. There is nothing tangible for our local roads except a few traffic lights and a few painted lines in roads. Traffic will be the number one problem. Next is water and then crime, and falling property values.

Q. Is the Foxwoods water-mitigation plan feasible for the long term?

Trettel: We’ve had 10 years of water restrictions. This plan is going to use up all our permitted water use, leaving nothing for any other developments. Their solution is to just pump more water. We have two small aquifers, and the rest of the town is rock. If we start putting demands and stress on that aquifer, it may take time, but we will start to run dry.

Q. Should residents of Milford be concerned about the social impacts on their town if a casino is build here?

Seaver: The overall crime rate, the amount of crime, will go up. There will be more drunk driving, speeding, and damage to property because visitors to the casino will not have the same respect for property as people who live here.

Trettel: Problem gambling goes up exponentially by proximity to casinos. And with the addition comes all the other problems. There is documented evidence of a rise in child abuse and domestic violence among gambling addicts. There is also a rise in bankruptcies. Also, our young people will be drawn into gambling because it will be easily accessible.

Q. How would a casino change the community of Milford?

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Seaver: It would change Milford in a dramatic way with the increased traffic, the water issues, the social impacts, plus the huge unknowns. This is not a small, little convenience store. This is a high, high risk business. There are things that can happen that we haven’t even thought of yet.

Trettel: My wife and I go out to eat in town at least twice a week. We know the owners of these places, we meet our friends. There is a concern that these places won’t be able to survive, and if they do, they will become different places where we won’t know anyone. This issue has divided this community, and if it passes, it will really divide us. It will be like when the Central Artery in Boston cut off the North End. It is going to isolate and sacrifice the east side of town with the brunt of the inconvenience. It will have a lasting impact, and it will continue to have a lasting, negative impact because of the daily aggravation it will cause.

Q. Is Foxwoods a good business partner for Milford?

Seaver: No. They are in desperate financial shape. They received a casino license in Philadelphia and never did anything, never laid one brick.

Trettel: Definitely not, and I have four quick reasons. They have a track record of not building things they have licenses for. They are obviously on the financial edge. Our host agreement has no teeth because there are no penalties for not meeting their obligations, and they have demonstrated in Connecticut that once they get the gaming license, they stop listening. If this vote passes, we’ll lose all our leverage.

Q. Is there anything about this casino that you see as a benefit to the community?

Seaver: The money. People will have to evaluate for themselves all the pros and cons of this project, and the money is a pro if everything else was equal, but everything else is not equal. The $25 million a year in tax revenue assumes that they are profitable, and that is a concern with four casinos proposed for the state.

This interview has been edited and condensed.
Ellen Ishkanian can be reached at eishkanian@gmail.com.

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