Palmer residents make final push for and against casino - KPTV - FOX 12

Palmer residents make final push for and against casino

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While there are many local elections taking place across Western Massachusetts this coming Tuesday, plenty of eyes will be focused on the town of Palmer.

Residents will be voting on whether or not they approve of a deal that could possibly bring a $1 billion Mohegan Sun casino resort to their town.

The "Yes for Palmer" campaign was out in full force on Saturday afternoon, holding a rally at the Crossroads Sports Bar.

Along with supporters, Mohegan officials were on hand to speak to the group.

Those in attendance told CBS 3 that they have done a lot, but they realize it is not a guaranteed victory.

"It's tighter than what was indicated early on, but I think a part of that is simply because the voters in Palmer have had so much time to examine the issue," said Town Councilor Paul Burns. "I think, unlike Springfield where people thought this was a great idea and boom it's done, we've looked at it."

"The reality is that we've been trying to put the messages out all along, addressing everybody's concerns," said Mitchell Etess, chief executive officer of the Mohegan Sun Tribal Gaming Authority. "That's why we've been here for so long, to understand what people want, to understand what people think. We're very concerned about the mitigation, the traffic and all of the impacts on the community, because we're part of the community."

While supporters rallied, the opposition continued their grassroots campaign on the street corners of the town.

The anti-casino group held signs and encouraged drivers to honk in support of their effort.

They said Mohegan Sun's project would negatively affect life in Palmer.

"If a casino comes, we're going to sell our house and find a nice small town to live in again," said Tim Kirk, a Palmer resident.  "We picked this town because it is a small town."

"It's also just exchanging one set of problems for another set of problems," said Palmer resident Caren Les. "Crime, drugs, guns and various things that we don't want in our community. This is a family town. This is not a casino town."

Mohegan Sun passed their suitability hearing with Massachusetts Gaming Commission last month.

They are competing with MGM in Springfield for the lone casino license in Western Mass.

Springfield voters passed MGM's host agreement over the summer.

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