City Manager Jay Ash wasn’t sure what to expect when he walked into Revere City Hall last Friday for the regional casino partnership forum.
What he found was an assemblage of municipal and business leaders from the region rarely seen in the same room – all looking to find a common denominator in supporting the regional approach of the proposed Mohegan Sun casino project in Revere.
Ash said he left feeling very good about where the project was going and how its leaders saw Chelsea fitting into their plans.
“I thought it was a great forum and an insightful one to me,” Ash said. “I’m seeing how much emphasis Mohegan Sun is placing on the region and how the entire region can benefit…I have to say it’s head and shoulders above any discussions I’ve had with any other casino operator.
“I left with a good feeling,” he added. “I’ve had the opportunity to see both proponents and the Mohegan Sun project continues to impress me as to where Chelsea fits into all of this.”
The forum included a panel of mayors and managers from Winthrop, Melrose, Saugus and Lynn who discussed how they wanted to see the project impact their areas. There was also a portion dedicated to business, where Chamber members and business leaders from all over the area contributed to the discussion. Finally, there was a panel discussion on traffic improvements with Mohegan’s traffic planner, John Kennedy, and City Manager Ash.
The meeting was the the brainchild of Revere Mayor Dan Rizzo and his Economic Development Director, John Festa. They said they would like to get the ball rolling on regional collaboration prior to any licenses being awarded.
“We don’t want to wait until a license is granted to start talking about ways we can do things together to make this project help elevate the entire region,” said Rizzo.
Ash said he felt like the transportation piece was an important discussion to start having due to the fact that the area’s roads so often isolate and “lock-up” cross community business opportunities.
“The transportation was an important discussion to have and opens up the ideas many of us have had to unlocking the things in the region that have been locked up by transportation issues for so long,” he said. “With such a big investment in our backyard, this is an opportunity to look at how that investment can help us unlock these opportunities.”
The Mohegan Sun casino proposal will have a public hearing in Boston at the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) this Tuesday, March 25, at 4 p.m. Then, on April 7, there will be a hearing on the proposal in Revere at the Revere High School Auditorium at 4 p.m.
The meetings will seek to gain input from the Revere community and surrounding communities.