Small Crowds, Big Questions At City’s First Public Casino Forum
Roughly 40 New Bedford residents turned out for the city's first public casino forum at Roosevelt Middle School Thursday night.
They heard from representatives from the city and KG Urban Enterprises before they had the chance to ask questions and share concerns.
One of the major concerns involved the potential of traffic back-ups along Route 18, but representatives explained there are no "peak" casino traffic times, so there won't be any major changes to the flow of traffic.
It was also pointed out that Route 18 was designed to adapt to future changes to the area around Cannon Street Station, which would be home to the proposed $650 million casino, hotel, and convention center project.
Other questions revolved around connecting the waterfront attraction to downtown, cost assessments to clean up the Cannon Street site, and keeping the integrity of the harbor and waterfront.
KG Urban managing director Andrew Stern was happy with the questions from the public and said they were meticulously thought out and will factor in future planning.
"In a way, the audience were the teachers tonight and they were pushing us, as the students, to work hard and answer the questions," Stern said after the meeting.
Derek Santos, executive director of the New Bedford Economic Development Council, explained the highlights from the Host Community Agreement signed between the city and KG Urban and what it will mean to residents. You can read those highlights here.
Two more public forums will be held before the June 23rd referendum: June 10th at the Zeiterion Theater and June 17th at Normandin Middle School. Both meetings will begin at 6 pm.
Stern made clear that the June 23rd vote is only a vote to keep these public discussions moving forward. He reminded those in attendance only the Massachusetts Gaming Commission has the authority to grant KG Urban a gaming license and, if that were to happen, there would be an entire new round of public meetings and permitting processes.
"I really only have one concern and that is we don't know what it's really going to look like in the end. There's a certain amount of trust that's going into this," said south end resident John McCoy.
McCoy said his concerns were addressed during the forum and is confident in the proposal.