The Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC) this week stated that the new gambling commission needs to consider several factors in determining the eventual sites of the state’s three casinos – factors like traffic and environmental impacts, necessary infrastructure investments and social welfare consequences.
And those factors are concerns that should be shared by the governments and residents of Revere, Everett and Saugus since Suffolk Downs is one of the leading candidates for a casino designation.
The other possible locations for the Eastern Massachusetts casino site are in Foxboro and Milford.
MAPC, the regional planning agency for the Metro Boston area, says it isn’t for – or against – casino gambling, but it strongly believes that the impact that a casino would have on a community and its neighbors ought to be a primary consideration.
A casino provides new jobs and pays millions in taxes and fees to the state and the host community. But it would also increase the need for road and transit improvements, public safety services and water/sewer infrastructure.
According to MAPC, if Suffolk Downs is picked for a casino, the surrounding communities (Revere, Everett, Saugus) could be eligible for “reasonable mitigation” for adverse impacts, such as the need for road improvements to address traffic concerns.
The report hypothetically determined that a casino with 175,000 square feet of gaming space, 350 hotel rooms, 30,000 square feet of restaurants and another 30,000 square feet of retail space would add some 3,000 vehicle trips during the peak morning and afternoon commuting times.
Considering the heavy volume of traffic already on major roadways like the Revere Beach Parkway and Route One, the additional traffic is an issue that would have to be addressed.
The MAPC report suggests that whoever is designated as the casino developer should be open to dedicating “adequate resources” – both at the time of development and over the long haul – “to appropriately upgrade service without burdening either municipal or state resources”.
Another issue raised by MAPC was drinking water.
“Hotels, restaurants and gambling facilities consume large volumes of drinking water”, said the report.
Existing casinos use more than 300,000 gallons per day. Some municipal water systems might find it difficult or impossible to meet such a demand “without taking extraordinary and costly measures”, said MAPC.
The MAPC report concludes with its contention that “where to place a casino in Eastern Massachusetts constitutes a major and complicated civic decision for the state, the host community and surrounding cities and towns”.