Brimfield casino site not worth the stakes
Can’t get there from here. MGM Resorts International finally threw in its hand and decided to walk away from a $600 million project to build a hilltop gambling mecca in the small western Massachusetts town of Brimfield. The prospect of 3,000 jobs, a figure almost equal to the population of Brimfield itself, also vanished.
MGM said there were “too many complications.”
“The unique nature of MGM’s plans for an all-inclusive world-class resort on the Brimfield site, and our growing understanding of the needed scope for its infrastructure, simply do not allow us to pursue the comprehensive MGM resort originally envisioned here,” said William Hornbuckle, MGM’s chief marketing officer in a statement.
That infrastructure issues did in the project should come as no surprise.
Route 20 did not faze the suits from Vegas. To mollify Brimfielders who were all too familiar with this traffic scourge, the company devised its own work-around: a casino-dedicated interchange off the Mass Pike that would take people directly to the “Rolling Hills Resort.” Price tag: about $30 million.
Then reality set in. Did you say new interchange? Bay State transportation officials required engineering studies and, in the Big Dig-scarred state, plans to fix any future problems. There were environmental concerns about wetlands as well. And those problems did not take into consideration whatever pound of flesh Federal Highway Administration and Brimfield officials planned to extract.
That MGM may have been having second thoughts was foreshadowed last month. The company had yet to come up with any concrete plans. One person associated with the project told The Boston Globe that the design and approval process would take anywhere from 12 to 18 months, a wildly optimistic timetable.
The proposed access road from the Mass Pike through the town of Warren also posed “jurisdictional issues” since it lies in the central-eastern Massachusetts casino region. All of this even before Brimfield residents weighed in on the project in a nonbinding vote that had been scheduled for May.
The failed MGM proposal will serve as a cautionary tale for casino developers trying to make headway in a state where construction projects are rarely as straightforward as they seem.
What appears to be a small bore concern, building an interchange from a highway to access a casino site, can pose obstacles of Olympian proportions once state and local officials, not to mention the feds, get into the mix. Rural areas will be particularly susceptible to these pressures, but cities and suburbs will also have to get a grip on what the construction, transportation, and environmental factors are, and what the realistic timelines associated with each of those areas really mean.
Brimfield’s loss may be neighboring Palmer’s gain. Mohegan Sun developers have expressed interest in a site there, and Palmer casino proponents have trumpeted their town’s virtues, including “access” and “infrastructure.” Exit 8 on the Mass Pike would take gamblers right into Palmer.
The state Department of Conservation and Recreation offers a plan to allow logging to return to state forests, the Lowell Sun reports.
Paid sick leave legislation gains backing on Beacon Hill. State Treasurer Steven Grossman says he supports the legislation (plus a proposal to raise the minimum wage), the State House News Service reports (via the Lowell Sun). CommonWealth reports on a rally and lobbying at the State House.
The Supreme Judicial Court says Gov. Deval Patrick must be present at meetings of the Governor’s Council in order for Lt. Gov. Tim Murray to cast a tie-breaking vote.
Massachusetts Convention Center Authority executive director James Rooney is still driving a vehicle home at night even though he was stripped of a subsidized car in his pay package last year, the Herald reports.
The number of people with licenses to carry a concealed handgun has been increasing on the South Shore, reports the Patriot Ledger.
More detailed plans for the proposed Aquinnah casino will be available to Fall River, Lakeville and Freetown officials this week, the New Bedford Standard Times reports.
Foxborough drops plans to try taking Kraft Group billboards.
Boston police union boss Tom Nee turns the screws on Commissioner Ed Davis.
Tough questioning yesterday from the Supreme Court’s conservative jurists have some wondering whether the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate will survive. Justice Anthony Kennedy teases both sides. The New York Times interviews insurance mandate holdouts in Massachusetts.
Michigan officials step in to bail out Detroit.
Newt Gingrich scales back his campaign schedule and lays off a third of his full-time staff, Politico reports.
US Sen. Scott Brown has transferred from the Massachusetts Army National Guard to a unit in Maryland. He’ll be working in a top Guard office in the Pentagon, but Brown said he requested the move because media scrutiny made it hard to continue with his Massachusetts assignment.
Mitt Romney’s new San Diego home includes a two-story, four-car garage with a car elevator. The Atlantic explains car elevators to the 99 percent.
Frank McCourt, the former Boston businessman, is selling the Los Angeles Dodgers to an investment group that includes former basketball star Magic Johnson for $2 billion, the Los Angeles Times reports.
The Patriot Ledger looks at the latest jobs numbers.
Massachusetts home sales had their best February in five years.
The city of Boston and the Boston Teachers Union will seek a state mediator to help them negotiate a contract, Universal Hub reports.
The Globe reports that a lawyer in the DC office of Mintz Levin has become the go-to guy for college presidents as they negotiate contracts — and for universities seeking advice on the compensation package to offer presidents.
The Brockton Enterprise argues in an editorial that Massachusetts should adopt a seat belt law that would allow police to pull over anyone they see not wearing a seat belt. Current law only allows police to ticket motorists who have been pulled over for some other reason.
New EPA rules regulating greenhouse gases appear to give a thumbs up to natural gas and a thumbs down to coal, Time reports.
A six-megawatt solar farm is coming to Dartmouth, the New Bedford Standard-Times reports.
A former investment broker from Beverly is ordered to pay more than $500,000 to a 9/11 widow for excessive trading of her holdings to boost his commissions, the Salem News reports.
Defense lawyers question how a Brockton man could have blown a .384 on a breathalyzer test last weekend, and still be alive.
MEDIAThe city of Boston pays $170,000 to a Boston attorney who alleged his civil rights were violated when police arrested him for using his cell phone to videotape a police arrest in 2007, WBUR reports. The Nieman Journalism Lab reports on the settlement and other similar cases involving Boston police.
Dan Kennedy reviews the Globe’s new e-paper.