As the community keeps watch on the Plainridge racino proposal in neighboring Plainville, Foxborough officials remain proactive in protecting the town as an abutter to the potential slot machine parlor.
Foxborough Board of Selectmen chair James DeVellis doesn’t want the town to be left out of any discussions involving Plainridge abutters so he has brought that discussion to Town Hall.
The Massachusetts Gaming Commission is scheduled to meet with Foxborough’s Board of Selectmen on Feb. 26 at 7:30 p.m. to discuss the town’s options and rights as an abutter to the Plainridge proposal.
“At the very least, I wanted the Gaming Commission to come in front of our board to explain the regulations, to explain what an abutting impacted community is and what our rights are,” DeVellis said. … “This isn’t a money grab [asking] what are we going to get.”
DeVellis stressed the importance of studying the long-term impact Plainville’s proposed slot parlor would have on Foxborough so the town can seek the appropriate mitigation available under legislation specific to abutting towns of gaming developments.
“I think we need to look at what the development is [and what] the mitigation [would be],” DeVellis said. “[We need to look at] what we think the [one, two, three and five-year impacts are] because in 10, 20 or 30 years whatever is going to go in there in Plainville may expand, it may bring in more businesses and take business away from Foxborough.”
That impact, according to concerned resident Chris Mitchell, may be felt throughout the entire town.
“A lot of people think because Plainridge is down there where a good chunk of us live that it’s going to only affect us but it will affect the entire town,” the Spruce Street resident said. “How is it going to affect somebody on Beach Street? Just like in the morning when we leave Spruce Street to come up [to the center of town] if it’s 7:15 a.m. or so you are going to hit traffic so you take the back roads. That’s kind of where Spruce Street is. It’s going to happen if somebody is traveling down Route 1 and there is something happening at the stadium then they might cut down Beach Street to go through the center of town so this whole thing will affect the entire town.”
The impact is likely to be more than just traffic as Plainridge would hold the state's lone slot parlor, according to DeVellis.
“At the end of the day there is going to be one slot house in the state so [Plainridge's] study is saying they’re going to be pulling business from everywhere and if they’re starting to pull business from Patriot Place then I think that’s another impact,” DeVellis said.
The slot parlor’s potential financial impact on Foxborough will be something the town takes a closer look at following its Feb. 26 meeting with the Gaming Commission. Officials have expressed interest in forming a gaming review committee to look into the Plainridge proposal.
“It wasn’t my intent to form [a committee] until we know what the scope and commitment and the jurisdiction [of the Plainville proposal] is,” DeVellis said.
While it is too early for selectmen to charge the suggested gaming review committee with any specific tasks, DeVellis said the group would likely pull reports from Plainville and consultants in North Attleboro to study the proposal and prepare the town for its next move – hiring consultants of its own.
“We would hire our own consultants to look at [what the gaming review committee found] and see what [the impact on the town] may be,” DeVellis said. “Things we haven’t thought about and then be in a better position to say if and when it goes forward we are in the equation and they are required to deal with us.”
Foxborough Board of Selectmen vice chair Mark Sullivan said he has already heard from people in town interested in serving on a volunteer committee and encourages all interested residents to fill out a committee form at the Board of Selectmen’s office at Town Hall.
Mitchell suggested this type of committee should have all sections of the town represented because the entire town may be impacted.
Selectman Virginia “Ginny” Coppola added that it may be beneficial for the town to appoint someone to the committee that may not be a volunteer.
“After we speak to the Gaming Commission we will have a better idea of what they’re expecting and then it may be beneficial to seek someone in the community, maybe not a volunteer, but maybe after hearing what the Gaming Commission is saying, we will know of somebody to join the committee.”
DeVellis said the board would explore all options after the Feb. 26 meeting – a meeting he hopes will prove to be beneficial to the town moving forward.
“Hopefully we can get a relationship [with the Gaming Commission] going [and figure out what] we need to do next,” DeVellis said.