April 26, 2012
TAUNTON, Mass. — The Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe outlined its plan for a 150,000-square-foot destination casino in the city of Taunton Thursday. There are three potential casino sites in the state; the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe is considered the leading candidate for the southeastern Massachusetts region.
The Mashpees' casino plan includes three hotels, more than a dozen upscale retail outlets and a family-oriented indoor-outdoor water park, said tribal chairman Cedric Cromwell. The project would employ about 1,000 union workers during the construction phase while creating 2,500 permanent jobs during operation — jobs, Cromwell said, that would benefit both Taunton and tribe members.
"As a federally recognized tribe, we have over 2,600 citizens," Cromwell said. "And like any other government, we want to provide, like the city of Taunton, for our people. We have the same shared interest as the City of Taunton has, to provide for our people and create economic development. And jobs are important."
The resort casino is expected to provide about $120 million annually in economic development to the region through employment and by using local companies for goods and services. Michael Speller of the casino development company Arcana Limited, which is working with the Mashpees, said the Mashpee casino would be built in four phases on a 150-acre site near the intersection of Routes 24 and 140. The total build-out would take about 5 years at a cost of more than $500 million.
"I can assure you we'll work very hard to deliver a project that this community will be very, very proud to have in its midst," Speller said.
But the deal's not done yet. The tribe still must negotiate a compact with the state and an agreement with Taunton, to compensate the city for any impacts. Taunton residents must approve the project in a June 9 citywide referendum vote. The tribe also must get federal approval to put the proposed casino land in trust with the Department of the Interior.
Crowell said it's his belief all those things will fall in place. He was optimistic that construction will begin within the next 12 months.
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