Yesterday Mayor Thomas Hoye Jr. of Taunton, Massachusetts announced that the public will have a chance to review and comment on infrastructure and traffic improvement programs planned as part of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe’s “Project First Light” casino resort in East Taunton. A public forum will be held on Monday, Nov. 16, at Martin Middle School.

In 2012 the tribe and city came to an agreement that guarantees a minimum of $8 million a year from gambling revenues from the $500 million casino expected to open in 2018. The tribe also has a gambling compact with the state negotiated in 2011 that would see them pay as much as 17% of revenues to Massachusetts if no other casino opens in Region C – if another casino, namely at the Brockton Fairgrounds opens, the tribe will not have to share revenue with the state.

Last month the tribe announced that some $30 million in highway and road improvements would begin in 2016. The tribe will also provide $15 million in special revenue bonds to be used at the city’s discretion for capital projects. These would be repaid by the city from revenue sharing funds. A traffic increase of more than 20,000 vehicle trips, coming and going per day, has been forecast in three areas of impact.

In addition to the 151 acres of land in trust approved by the the U.S. Department of the Interior on September 18th, the tribe plans to purchase an additional 114 acres from three businesses and the Taunton Development Corporation.

At full build out, the  project calls for a casino spanning 150,000 square feet, three hotels with 900 guestrooms, about a dozen retail outlets, fine dining venues, a water park, and an events center. About 2,500 people are expected to be employed permanently in addition to several hundred construction jobs in the “economically depressed” area.

The Mayor said that the November forum would begin and end with an open house and that another public forum may be held in December.

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