The Massachusetts Gaming Commission voted unanimously on Thursday to approve a request for more money from the Massachusetts town of West Springfield while postponing decisions on similar appeals from the Hampden County Sheriff’s Department and the Caring Health Center.
According to a report from local radio broadcaster WAMC, West Springfield intends to use the $247,500 drawn from the eastern state’s Community Mitigation Fund to offset the higher than expected costs involved in reconstructing its main Memorial Avenue thoroughfare.
Established in 2011 with $14 million from a portion of the fees paid to the state for new gaming licenses, the Community Mitigation Fund is designed to help communities and other entities offset the costs related to the construction and operation of gaming establishments.
West Springfield is located only a mile across the Connecticut River from the MGM Springfield casino. Although operator MGM Resorts International gave the town $665,000 for the project in 2014, Stephen Crosby, Chairman for the Massachusetts Gaming Commission, declared that recent policy changes from the Massachusetts Department Of Transportation have led to increased costs.
“This is for unanticipated and/or unanticipatable [expenses],” said Crosby.
West Springfield mayor William Reichelt explained in a letter to the Massachusetts Gaming Commission that the higher costs are due to the Complete Streets guidelines approved by the town and the Massachusetts Department Of Transportation in 2015, which dictate that all major road projects must now be able to accommodate every mode of transportation and users of all ages and abilities. He wrote that this policy took effect after it had received its payment from MGM Resorts International and had left West Springfield with a shortfall of $280,000.
For its part, the Hampden County Sheriff’s Department wants $2 million from the Community Mitigation Fund to help offset the costs of relocating the Western Massachusetts Correctional Alcohol Center, which is in the path of the MGM Springfield development, to a new site. Similarly, the Caring Health Center is seeking $257,075 to address parking difficulties for patients and employees as it is located across the street from the coming casino. A vote on these petitions was postponed until a special meeting of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission later this week.