SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) - Springfield has given MGM the thumbs-up, now the casino developer needs to work out agreements with Springfield's neighbors.
22News discovered what if any conversations MGM has had with their surrounding communities.
MGM told 22News they've had initial meetings with eight communities, but are waiting for the results of several impact studies before they begin serious negotiations.
MGM says it has had initial conversations with West Springfield, Agawam, Holyoke, Chicopee, Longmeadow, East Longmeadow, Ludlow and Wilbraham. Casino companies are supposed to have their surrounding community agreements signed by the end of the year, when their final applications are due. But the Mass Gaming Commission is not making that a firm deadline.
22News spoke with the mayors in Chicopee, Agawam, Holyoke and the Town Manager in Longmeadow. All of those town leaders have said that they have had ongoing discussions with MGM and are hopeful they can work out a deal by the end of the year. Their mitigation concerns involve everything from traffic, first responders and jobs.
"It's ongoing we are in the process of developing studies on traffic, economic impact, responsible gaming, we're studying impacts", says MGM Vice President of Global Development Mike Mathis.
Mathis says that they are looking at both the positive and negative impacts of a casino on a community.
The Pioneer Valley Planning Commission has given these towns the option of letting it help in the discovery process before each town or city negotiates.
"There is a lot of activity, packed into this period between now and the end of December", says Pioneer Valley Planning Commission Executive Director Tim Brennan.
Brennan says at MGM's request, the PVPC is going to complete a traffic study for the towns and cities involved to compare it to some of the studies MGM is already preparing.
The Mass Gaming Commission will ultimately determine which towns or cities are defined as surrounding communities, so there may be more or less than these eight towns involved.
Mathis told 22News, based on gaming projections, there will be the potential of tens of millions of dollars a year that go into a community mitigation fund in the state, a portion of the tax the casinos will pay. This is stated in the Mass Gaming Act to help infrastructure projects that may be impacted by casinos. That will be separate than the surrounding community agreements.