As the state's Gambling Commission gets organized, Springfield's own committee is beginning the footwork in what promises to be a highly competitive battle for the sole license in Western Mass.
The Casino Site Committee held their first official meeting Tuesday night.
"They're interested in Springfield, they're interested in helping it's residents," said committee member and Springfield City Council President James Ferrera.
A mixture of law enforcement officials, city councilors and community activists, all from Springfield, will help usher a casino bid out of the city of homes and into the hands of the Commonwealth's gaming commission.
"We as a committee are going to look at every proposal. We're going to review it, we're going to make recommendations, we have a vital role in this process," said Ferrera.
Much of that role includes representing the approximately 160,000 city residents along with business owners to address concerns over crime, traffic, noise and community impact.
"We want to accurately portray feedback from the community for the City Council," said the committee's chairwoman, Paula Meara.
In recent days, the city has made headlines with casino announcements, including the prospect of hiring a partner to help with negotiations. They're significant developments in Springfield, but they're not alone in the race. In Palmer, casino developer Mohegan Sun has had a community presence for three years and has significant town-wide support.
But committee members insist they're not playing catch-up.
"I think we still have time but we just have to make sure that we have our ducks in a row, that we go through the process properly and that we don't rush a decision," said the committee's vice chair, Richard O'Connor.
The committee plans on highlighting the city's strengths as communities across Western Mass compete for a potential $500 million investment.
"We are centrally located, we have a lot of infrastructure here in the city already in place and we are going to work and we are going to fight for it," said Ferrera.
Before any referendum can be made, the mayor and City Council must first agree on a Community Host Agreement.
But committee members say there is still much more work to be done in the meantime.
The committee will meet again at 5 p.m. on Monday, June 4.
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