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Rep. Rogers' open letter to the state gaming commission chairman
February 13, 2012

Dear Commissioner Crosby:

The citizens of the Commonwealth most directly affected by the proposed Foxborough casino are the citizens of Walpole.  The proposed site, distantly situated within the border of Foxborough, directly abuts more than 500 residential homes…all of which are Walpole families.  For the following reasons, this unique locus gives Walpole the legal status of a “Host Community”, as defined under Chapter 23K of the General Laws and, therefore, grants the voters of Walpole the power to vote up or down on any such project in addition to the voters of Foxborough.

Section 15 (13) of the new casino law states that “if a proposed gaming establishment is situated in 2 or more cities or towns, the applicant shall execute an agreement with each host community, or a joint agreement with both communities, and receive a certified and binding vote on a ballot question at an election held in each host community in favor of such a license.”  The term “gaming establishment” includes nongaming structures “related to the gaming area and may include, but shall not be limited to hotels, restaurants or other amenities”.   Such amenities will necessarily include parking, water and sewer access, emergency egress roads, and interbasin transfers in order to make the proposed casino possible.   Without Walpole, the casino cannot work.

These Walpole neighborhoods are situated on land that belonged to the town of Foxborough from Colonial times until 1931.  Chapter 307 of the Acts of 1931 reset the boundaries between these two towns, effective only after a majority vote of the voters of each town of the towns of Walpole and Foxborough.  Any casino complex must be similarly accepted by a majority vote of the voters of each of these towns.  Since Walpole has always had a unique relationship to this site, any casino development in this part of Foxborough must also receive the approval of Walpole. 

In 1999, the legislature enacted Chapter 16, the so-called “Foxboro Stadium” bill.  The economic development area created by the statute is made viable by the mandated infrastructure improvements on adjacent Walpole land, a cost borne by state taxpayers.  Walpole is specifically cited in the law as a town whose infrastructure enhancements are necessary to promote the public safety and convenience of the Foxborough economic area.  Further, the Parking and Traffic Management Zone created by the law defines the zone to include satellite parking spaces in Walpole necessary for stadium events.   If so much as one parking space is altered under the current configuration, any casino developed in this economic area necessarily incorporates Walpole by statutory reference, an amenity which further renders Walpole a host community.

Section 12 of the 1999 Act authorizes sewer connections to the town of Walpole.  Such a casino, with hotel, restaurants, and all-day, all-night, 365-day operations will need to hook up to Walpole’s sewer system downstream, and thereby making it a nongaming structure “related to the gaming area”, a status that even further renders Walpole a host community.

State taxpayers paid $70 million in 1999 for improvements that did not anticipate a casino since the legislature defeated a casino measure that same year.  Any such newly authorized industry approved and sited here must therefore require the proponents to reimburse the taxpayers their $70 million investment, with interest.  Close to $100 million, this money would be better reinvested as school aid, which would mean another $230,000 for Walpole school children, a far better investment for the future of our Commonwealth.

The casino complex must also provide alternative egress for emergency vehicles in the rear of the establishment.  With thousands of consumers eating, sleeping, gambling every hour of every day throughout the year, police, fire and ambulance must have backup access on and off the premises should Route 1 become inaccessible.  Since the front of the casino complex is accessed completely by Route 1 only, the alternate road connection can only come from a connection to Summer Street…in Walpole… a necessary amenity that also renders the town of Walpole, in addition to the town of Foxborough, a “host community”.

Although Foxborough land may be transferred to Walpole through the application of law (see above), the waters indigenous to this area continue to follow their natural course regardless of how or where boundary lines are drawn.  The casino complex entails significant new water use and wastewater discharge seated upon the confluence of four watershed areas:  the Charles River basin, the Neponset River basin, the Taunton River basin, and the Ten Mile River basin.   Any such significant alteration in the natural flow patterns of Walpole’s water will trigger approval under the state’s Interbasin Transfer Act.  Although this Act exempts transfers between river basins within the same municipality, transfers between Foxborough and Walpole are not exempt.  Walpole’s water, whether withdrawn at an accelerated rate to accommodate the casino or recharged at lower levels because of the casino, will necessarily be a part of the casino development for the proposal to be viable.

In the unlikely chance that the voters of Foxborough vote affirmatively in the ballot box for this casino, the voters of Walpole, the People of Walpole, must also be heard.

Very Truly Yours,

John H. Rogers

State Representative