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Milford selectmen ready to sign casino pact with Foxwoods

Posted by Leslie Anderson  September 4, 2013 09:39 PM

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Milford selectmen say they have struck the best deal they can with Foxwoods, and are ready to sign a final host agreement Monday night, paving the way for a town vote on a casino that would bring the community annual payments of more than $30 million a year, 3,500 permanent jobs and an initial mitigation payment of $32.1 million.

The town and Foxwoods spent a Labor Day weekend locked in “intensive negotiations” after Foxwoods expanded its plans to increase the financial pot for the town and better compete with two city casino proposals.

After listening Wednesday night to department heads and the town’s consultants say they are satisfied with Foxwoods’ plans and mitigation proposals because the larger size is still smaller than the final buildout they had prepared for, selectmen said they had heard enough.

“This is as strong an agreement as we can come up with,” Selectman Brian Murray told the crowd of about 75 people, about half of whom cheered what he had to say. “I’ve done the best I can to give you the opportunity to say whether this is something you want for your town.”

Murray and Selectman Dino DeBartolomeis voted in favor of instructing Town Council Gerald M. Moody and Foxwoods to finalize an agreement they can sign Monday night. Board Chairman William Buckley voted against the measure.

"It's a very weak agreement, it's horrible. They sold us down the river," said Rob Mitchell who described his house as being "at ground zero."

Mitchell said the $2.5 million set aside to help residents who lose property value because of the casino "is not enough, absolutely not enough."

But the decision was welcome news for Foxwoods chief executive Scott Butera, who said his company is in the licensing sweepstakes to win.

“Am I confident, you bet,” he said after the meeting.

Foxwoods is competing for the sole Greater Boston casino license with two other companies: Wynn Resorts, which has planned a $1.2 billion casino resort on the Mystic River waterfront in Everett, and Suffolk Downs, which plans — along with casino partner Caesars Entertainment — to develop a $1 billion gambling resort at the racetrack in East Boston and Revere.

“We have a bit of an edge, a home court advantage,” Butera said. “Even though they are very strong applicants, this isn’t their hometown. This is our hometown, we understand what Massachusetts is all about.”

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

Go to Boston.com/Milford for more Your Town coverage of Milford.

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