Taunton Mayor Thomas Hoye Jr. and the chairman of the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe today promised that “thousands of jobs’’ and an economic rebirth of the city will flow from the construction of a destination resort casino in Taunton.
In a joint statement released today, Hoye and Tribal Chairman Cedric Cromwell said the site chosen for the casino is at the intersections of Routes 24 and 140, which is also the exit near the Silver City Galleria Mall. The tribe has obtained an option to purchase a parcel of land.
“This will be a first class resort with something to offer the whole family,’’ Cromwell said in the statement. Current plans call for the resort to offer a casino, hotels, casual dining, “entertainment space and other amenities.’’
Both officials promised to hold a number of community meetings with impacted residents in the near future and the tribe wants to hold a citywide referendum on the casino plan. And the mayor vowed to abide by the public access requirements of the state's recently enacted gambling law.
"I've been impressed from the beginning with the tribe's commitment to an inclusive process and a real partnership with Taunton,'' the mayor said in the statement. "Together, we will be meeting with residents across the city about this project and the long-term vision for our community.''
Both officials claimed the casino would mark a rebirth of Taunton, and the mayor said it will mean millions of dollars in tax revenue that can be used to improve every facet of life in the Southeastern Massachusetts city.
"It will also mean millions of dollars in revenue to address our priorities her in Taunton like improving our schools, hiring police officers and firefighters, improving infrastructure, and attracting new businesses to the city,'' Hoye said.
The Globe reported today that the tribal project in Taunton could also have significant ramifications for nearby casino proposals, because the Massachusetts Gaming Commission may not want to approve another gambling facility too near a tribal casino.
The tribe must next negotiate with Governor Deval Patrick on the compact, which would include what money the state would get from gambling proceeds. By July 31, the tribe would also have to win legislative approval of the compact and schedule a local referendum. If the Mashpee Wampanoag fail to make the deadline, the commission must open the southeast to commercial casino bidders.
The state’s new casino law gives wide deference to the Mashpees’ federal rights to build a tribal casino on Indian land. The state law, signed in November by the governor, authorizes one gambling resort in Greater Boston and another in Western Massachusetts, but delays bidding for any commercial casino in the southeast until at least August, to give the Mashpees time to make progress toward a tribal casino. If it appears they are on course to build a casino in the southeast, the gambling commission will not solicit bids for a commercial casino in that region.
The road to Taunton has been long and bumpy for the Mashpee Wampanoag. In 2007, the tribe made a deal with the town of Middleborough. But the tribe later abandoned those plans.
And in 2009, former tribal chairman, Glenn Marshall, was sentenced to federal prison for embezzlement.
For the past several months, as major casino companies planted their flags at sites around Greater Boston and Western Massachusetts, the southeast was mostly silent, due to the language in the law that gives the tribe first shot at developing a casino there.
The tribe must also win federal approval to treat the Taunton property as Indian land.