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Boxborough selectmen shoot down slots proposal off I-495

Posted by Leslie Anderson  May 13, 2013 09:02 PM

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BOXBOROUGH -- The Board of Selectmen on Monday night ended plans by a Maryland developer to proceed with a proposal to turn a Holiday Inn off Interstate 495 in Boxborough into a $200 million boutique hotel and slot machine parlor complex.

A crowd of more than 135 cheered as the five members voted 4 to 1 against entering into negotiations with the Cordish Companies to locate a slot machine parlor in town.

There were no representatives from Cordish at Monday night’s meeting, but last week Joe Weinberg, a company managing partner, asked residents for more time to show the financial and other benefits he said the town would receive from allowing a slot machine parlor in town.

Selectman Raid Suleman dismissed that argument.

“Personally, I’m against casinos. ...I don’t care about the money, even if it would pave our streets with gold, let’s not sell our town,” he said, before voting against the motion to proceed with negotiations.

Board member Frank Powers, who cast the lone vote in favor of exploring the plans, said he was not advocating for the proposal, but simply wanted to keep the door open while the town does its due diligence.

“We simply don’t know all the answers without further evaluation,” he said.

The overwhelming majority of community response indicated the town had heard enough, however, according to Board of Selectmen Chairman Leslie Fox.

Fox said the town had received 217 emails and letters since the plans first surfaced on April 22, with 88 percent against the proposal and 12 percent in favor of allowing more time to explore the potential benefits.

“We received just one letter that was definitely yes,” he said.

And Boxborough resident Kathy Luce said she started an online petition against the proposal last Thursday night and had already gotten 800 signatures.

Jeanne Kangas, a former selectman in town, called for a quick end to the division the plans have already caused in town.

“I hope everyone can see that before this even gets going how divisive it can be, the name calling, the castigation ...Nip this in the bud,” she said.

“They call it a jewel in the woods,” Kangas said of the developer’s description of the property. “It’s not a jewel, it’s fools gold, don’t buy it.”

Had selectmen voted in favor of moving forward with negotiations and accepted a host agreement with Cordish, voters would have had to pass a referendum favoring the agreement before the state Gaming Commission could consider the site along with proposals for slot parlors in Plainville, Raynham, and Worcester.

Ellen Ishkanian can be reached at eishkanian@gmail.com.

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