West Springfield city councilors say casino decision made - WFSB 3 Connecticut

West Springfield city councilors say casino decision made without them


Controversy in West Springfield is brewing over the way the city is figuring out how a Springfield casino would impact them.

A decision made by the mayor is pitting city councilors against him.

The eight communities that surround MGM's Springfield casino proposal were invited to be part of a study that would look at how each community would be affected.

Seven communities signed on to benefit from the studies.

But Tuesday night at a casino meeting in Springfield, West Springfield city councilors were surprised to learn their city had already declined.

"Very disturbing," said West Springfield City Councilor George Kelly.

Councilors are accusing Mayor Greg Neffinger of shooting down an invitation to be a part of the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission's study of casino impacts without talking to them first.

"He acts like a sovereign, he feels he can make the rules as he goes along, he ignores the charter, he ignores that we were all elected in the same election," Kelly said.

Kelly now fears his constituents aren't getting a fair deal.

"Our citizens are not going to get the benefits of participating in these questions that need to be answered," he said.

The planning commission has been hired by MGM to study the effects their Springfield casino would have on the eight towns that border Springfield.

Wilbraham, Holyoke, Longmeadow, East Longmeadow, Agawam, Chicopee and Ludlow all joined in.

West Springfield is the only one that said no.

"There's been no communication from the administration at all about that," Kelly said.

"That decision can change but I'm just trying to respect, we asked, we got a response from the chief elected official and his designees and we don't want to quibble with a chief elected official," said Tim Brennan with the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission.

But Neffinger told CBS 3 Springfield off-camera Tuesday night that his mind is made up. West Springfield already has hired consultants from their own casino process.

He says those consultants are already in talks with MGM and have already done some research of their own. He says he and his team will share that information with the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission.

Recently MGM said they're happy with this process, saying in a statement, "We feel confident that our approach has been transparent and proactive. Currently, we are coordinating with individual communities to advance required impact studies to assess the effect our proposal could have on a particular community."

West Springfield and East Longmeadow officials have also already said publicly they're opposed to MGM building in Springfield. Longmeadow says they will be following suit.

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