A project that is immensely important to our plans for ReVenture in Western Massachusetts is the MGM Springfield Resort and Casino. ReVenture and MGM/Springfield are in talks to partner and build NetZero affordable housing clusters throughout the swath of the city that was affected by the 2011 tornado.
As a part of the process mandated by the state legislature for the location selection of the three casinos, public hearings where scheduled for communities surrounding the projects, as well as for each host community. Mayor Sarno has reached out and asked that I speak at the Springfield host community meeting on April 1st to discuss the positives of the project. This is through the eyes of a business owner recently moved to Springfield because of the new opportunities presented by this and other projects. With that in mind, I attended the West Springfield meeting this past Monday with the objective of coming up to speed on how the arguments against the casino idea had evolved, and what issues were being worked out, in good faith, by the affected communities and the representatives of MGM.
The meeting was surprisingly subdued with far more people speaking in favor of the project or speaking to legitimate concerns within the community, than those who spoke out in opposition to the idea of the casino itself. The public officials and residents of West Springfield came armed with facts and sound arguments on a myriad of issues that need to be looked at and resolved before this project moves forward. From serious transportation concerns on an already well-traveled Route 5, to the dangers to pedestrians on the Memorial Bridge and rotary, they were heard and had a visual impact on the commission.
The evening certainly served to sharpen the thoughts and arguments that I was already working on for my speech on April 1st. Yes! April 1st! I am an entrepreneur in a new home town arguing the merits of an $800 million dollar resort-casino on April fool’s day. What could possibly go wrong?