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A Starting Point for Milford Casino Opponents

For the first time since the filing of a casino proposal, opponents met in Milford to begin organizing a campaign to defeat the project.

How do you fight a resort casino development of up to $1 billion? Beginning with small steps, and leading up to a larger campaign.

For the first time near Interstate 495, opponents met at Milford Town Hall Monday and talked about how to get organized, grow in numbers, and influence local voters.

About 60 people attended the organizational meeting, spilling out of the meeting room into the hallway. Most attendees were from Holliston and Hopkinton, based on a show of hands. But as some of the participants pointed out, the meeting was not widely publicized.

"It's not that Milford people don't care," said Milford resident Beverly Swymer. "They didn't know about it. I'm sure more people will come forward."

a group that has drawn most of its members from the surrounding towns to Milford, including Holliston, which borders the proposed site. Only Milford residents will get a referendum vote on the project, if it gets to that point, which inspired several people to say the group needed to begin reaching out in Milford and reaching likely voters.

Joe Mastrangelo, of Holliston, said small business owners may assume, incorrectly, that they will get business from casino visitors. Casinos are designed to keep people inside them. "Nobody is going to leave the casino," he said. "They're not going to get a sandwich at Caffe Sorrento. Ain't going to happen."

Colorado-based developer David Nunes, working with Warner Gaming, submitted an application last month, one of three before the Massachusetts Gaming Commission proposed for the greater Boston region.

The Milford development, called Crossroads Massachusetts, would directly compete for the single available license for the region with two other applications in or near Boston: , submitted by Wynn Resorts.

The state also will authorize up to one slots parlor, a resort-casino for the western Massachusetts, as well as up to one in southeastern region of the state.

Casino Free Milford operates a website, and a Facebook page, and its organizers have been in contact with Foxborough residents, who succeeded in building community opposition to a casino proposed last year in that town. The group members have already conducted some research into gathering facts and reports on casino impacts on surrounding communities, and on so-called secondary effects, such as crime and traffic increases.

Local opponents in Milford will need to build on the information, and conduct a campaign that is like any other political campaign, said John Seaver, a health care consultant and former selectman in Milford.

"You've got to keep your eyes on the ball," Seaver said. "Milford is the host community. This organization needs to take on a Milford face."

He pointed out that Milford is different than Foxborough politically; the battle will not be won here by voting out selectmen, he said, which is what happened in Foxborough. Three candidates that were anti-casino were voted on to the board of selectmen in that town, and they then refused to negotiate with the developer.

In Milford, one selectman, William Buckley, is opposed to a casino. Two others, Dino DeBartolomeis and Brian Murray, have said they want to wait and see what is proposed. Murray is running for re-election this spring, and as yet has no opponent. But Seaver told opponents, who started talking about putting forward a candidate to run against him, that it wasn't going to work.

"You are not going to defeat this selectman; forget about what Foxborough did," Seaver said.

Although he did not identify himself to the group, Murray attended the meeting. He said outside the room, after it ended, that he did not want to distract from the discussion. He said he still felt the concerns were premature, that he wasn't convinced the Nunes project would make it out of the first phase of state review, which involves an investigation into his and his partner's financing and past regulatory history.

Barry February 06, 2013 at 03:46 PM
If you have problems with a casino in Milford and if you are a resident of Milford then vote against it. That is your right. Similarly, if you are not a Milford resident, too bad. The laws of Massachusetts do not allow - thankfully - residents from other towns to have a say. (Otherwise absolutely nothing would get done including issues other than casinos.)
Jim February 06, 2013 at 10:08 PM
Thanks for your logical request for information. I am a resident and oppose the casino based upon my independent research. Sorry I don't have the references with me at this location but here are some details. Unbiased studies have shown a number of detrimental impacts including: drop in property values, increased traffic and burden on infrastructure, crime, increased adolescent gambling and more. Unbiased studies include post-casino data from the town of Putnam, CT and another nearby town (again, sorry I don't have specifics with me). There is also a government study indicating that virtually all casinos during its study period were place in already depressed areas and that many commercial properties generally were lucky to hold value and residential properties did worse. The Milford proposal is unique in that it is in a totally residential area. This would make the impacts cited worse. Thanks for your point. Please Google for information and I think you will find that although there is a lot of controversy and conflicting data, the unbiased reports are largely negative. Good luck.
Ray Fellows February 06, 2013 at 10:12 PM
I am a Milford resident and I thank everyone for the input. I have now decided I need to join the opposition to this initiative because it looks like some people actually think its a good thing. Even the possibility of this happening scares me.
Mary MacDonald February 06, 2013 at 10:26 PM
Myd, at this point, the proposal is in Phase I of the application process, this is to allow the state to look into the finances of the applicant (Nunes and Warner Gaming), their regulatory history, etc... The location-specific part of the application comes in Phase II, so there is no plan right now for folks to evaluate. And I called yesterday to ask when the Phase I application will be made public, and it's not yet. They have started conducting a background investigation into the applicant, it could take several months.
Myd Nevins February 06, 2013 at 11:07 PM
Thank you Mary. I guess we can hold off from the warnings of impending doom for awhile. :)

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