West Springfield town councilors weigh in on casino negotiations - FOX Carolina 21

West Springfield town councilors weigh in on casino negotiations

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As negotiations continue in West Springfield between the mayor and Hard Rock, town councilors are suggesting their own priorities.

Police, fire and tax money are among the top priorities of the West Springfield casino committee if a casino is built in the town.

Brian Griffin, town councilor and chairman of the casino committee, says the people of West Side should be considered the most during negotiations with Hard Rock.

"A portion should be turned back to the residents and the businesses of the community," he said.

Griffin sent a letter to Mayor Gregory Neffinger Friday afternoon outlining the council's requests.

Among them is a community enhancement fee to be paid to the town over a two-year period.

"Police infrastructure, fire infrastructure, roads, all those type of things and that will just go into one fee," Griffin said.

The fee would go towards improvements across the town, including a policing substation on the Big E fairgrounds attached to the casino.

Councilors also suggested a community impact fee to be paid each year to help pay for the employees needed to maintain a town with a casino.

Griffin says the council anticipates the city will have to hire more than 10 additional police officers, nine more firefighters along with more department of public works workers to maintain roads.

Host community negotiations are ongoing between the mayor and Hard Rock.

Griffin says the council needs to be included throughout the process.

"The more the merrier, as far as I'm concerned. If you get the council to work with all the interested parties on this, essentially the council has to approve whether it goes to a referendum or not," he said.

In a statement sent to CBS 3, Hard Rock officials said:

"Hard Rock welcomes the input of the council and the public throughout this process. We have advocated voices and vision, transparency and communications, as we've held a myriad of public meetings and workshops in every corner of West Springfield. We're certain that there is an alignment of thoughts on many, many issues."

Town officials are still expecting a vote on a casino sometime in September.

Hard Rock is competing against MGM in Springfield and Mohegan Sun in Palmer for the sole Western Mass casino license.

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