A Chicago law firm with experience in working with communities on casino developments will submit a more detailed desciption of its planned work to Milford Selectmen, the first step toward a contract.
Shefsky & Froelich also represents the cities of Taunton and Springfield, which have active casino applications, but two of the law firm's partners told selectmen Monday that the bulk of that work has already been completed. They told selectmen the firm will have time and resources to work with Milford officials in navigating what could be a $500 to $800 million casino proposal.
Developer David Nunes — working now with partners Warner Gaming and Foxwoods Casino — has submitted an initial proposal to the Massachusetts Gaming Commission for a resort style casino on undeveloped land in Milford. The site is east of I-495 and north of Route 16, close to the Holliston line.
The proposal has not yet been described to town officials or media. The application before the Gaming Commission, for a review of the finances and background of the developer and partners, has not yet been made public.
In a presentation to selectmen, Cid Froelich and Kim Copp, partners in Shefsky & Froelich, described the firm's experience in the gaming industry, which includes working with several large cities, including Detroit and Chicago, as well as smaller communities, such as Taunton, in negotiating agreements with casino developers. Taunton is working with the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe, which has the first right to develop a resort casino in southeastern Massachusetts.
Milford shares the Boston to Worcester region with two other communities with active casino proposals: East Boston and Everett.
According to Shefsky & Froelich, it would line up consultants, who would study the impacts of a casino on traffic, crime, fire protection, school services, and other municipal services. In addition, the company would work with town officials in negotiating a host community agreement, and in drafting a referendum for a public vote if the process continues that far.
The work of the firm could cost as much as $450,000, not including the $250,000 to $325,000 that Froelich estimated would go to the various consultants. None of those costs should be covered by the town, he emphasized. The town would tell the developer that he will have to cover what it needs to evaluate the proposal, or no agreement will be reached, he said.
Once the town gets the "letter of engagement" from the firm, it will be sent to developer Nunes, and he will be told the town expects him to cover the expenses, Froelich said.
"If he doesn't, it stops right there," he said.
Once the developer submits a proposal, the attorneys estimated the various consultants, such as traffic engineers, would need about two months to complete their studies of the impacts. The town would need another month to then negotiate mitigation efforts with the developer, and potentially reach a "host agreement."
Once the town selectmen reach that agreement, a public vote on the casino proposal would be scheduled. The state will require at least a 60-day posting period for the public referendum, the attorneys said.
This means the community vote could come as soon as October.
Milford selectmen all said they wanted to have an experienced firm in place, ready to work with them, once the developer releases a development plan.
"We owe it to the town to be in a position to get the best information possible," said Brian Murray, chairman of the board.