Neighboring Communities Weigh in on Holyoke’s New Casino Stance

Public officials around Western Massachusetts say– like many residents –they too are surprised to see Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse expressing a willingness to consider casino proposals.

Northampton Mayor David Narkewicz says he’s as concerned about the prospect of a casino 11 miles down the road in Holyoke as one 32 miles away in Palmer. He says when considering the region’s increasing number of potential casino proposals, he’ll pay close attention to the details of each developer’s plan.

“I want to understand all the various proposals and to negotiate with them around protecting our local businesses, protecting our arts and entertainment and generally just protecting Northampton as a destination, which it is.”

In the next city over, Easthampton Mayor Michael Tautznik says he will compare what he calls developers “economic mitigation plans.” Tautznik says when holyoke’s morse made his anti-casino stand clear before his election in 2011. Paper City Development had proposed a casino at the city’s Wyckoff Country Club. And Tautznick says their proposal included funding for abutting communities, which was more than the state required as part of the casino development process. Tautznik says Easthampton could use that sort of money to improve things like its historic city hall.

“We’re looking to make that an entertainment space. And you know we don’t have the resources to do that on our own — grants are few and far between. So that proposal really added some incentive for us to take the issue of how do we maintain our downtowns and how do we continue to bolster the cultural activities that we could offer.”

Tautznik says he’ll meet with Northampton businessman Eric Suher on Thursday to discuss the casino resort he’s thinking about for his Mountain Park in Holyoke.