HOLYOKE, Mass. (WWLP) - Holyoke's internal casino application process is underway. 22News discovers which developers are still in the game.
For close to a year, Holyoke mayor Alex Morse said he was opposed to a casino in his city. Now less than a week after publically announcing his change of heart, the cities application process has began. Gordon Alexander is a Holyoke city councilor.
Paper City Development at Wyckoff Country Club and Eric Suher's group at Mountain Park both paid the city an initial $25,000 to stay in the game. The city has set a January 10th deadline for the Mayor to figure out if one or more developers meet the criteria of what he is looking for in a casino to eventually negotiate a host agreement.
"There's no chance to do any qualified vetting of a consultant unless this process has been going on for months behind closed doors, which is certainly a possibility", says Holyoke City Councilor Gordon Alexander.
Marcos Marrero is Holyoke's director of planning and economic development.
(Why the rush to get this done prior to the state's January 15th deadline?
and not let the developer or developers put their application forward to the state, while the city continues to do its due diligence and continue to look at the plans?)
"We're going to look at that criteria and we're very confident that we can do that by January 10th.
It is not a lot of time. We're not talking about doing all the studies, we're looking at an initial review with a community committee", says Marrero.
Holyoke just released its preliminary Gaming License Resort schedule. Money is due already. Councilor Alexander told 22News, the city needs to slow down.
"I'm not sure there's anything in the charter that would prohibit these actions, but it fly's in the face of open and democratic government, this is a rushed, hush job", says Alexander.
Lorraine Gorham supports a Holyoke Casino and she lives across the street from Wyckoff Country Club. She also agrees the city is rushing things along.
"Of course they are, but at least they are in it and they're in it to win it", says Gorham.
Marrero told 22News the mayor could continue to work with both developers after January 10th.
"It doesn't have to be one, it can be two, I don't think the mayor has ruled anything out at this point", says Marrero.
While Gorham hopes that the Mountain Park and Wyckoff Plans find a way to work together.
"To join forces would be the greatest thing. They want a resort casino and that certainly would be it", says Gorham.