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February 9, 2013

Few details on slots parlor plan

(Continued)

“I told them they have to convince me; I am not sold yet,” said Trask. He said his questions would be the same for any large development being proposed in town, and he has no problem with gaming.

Bill Clark, chairman of the Board of Selectmen, said he has received more phone calls, emails and letters about this issue than he ever has since being elected in 2006, and all the calls are running against a slots parlor.

“They made almost no commitment, they were noncommittal,” Clark said of the casino developer.

Clark said he is concerned about increased traffic on local roads, with Route 128 in need of expansion and Route 114 resembling a parking lot on Saturday afternoons.

Selectman Keith Lucy said it is way too soon to talk specifics with Cordish, and that many details, such as revenues to the town and other mitigation issues, are best left for negotiations.

“We are going through a process to define what it is, and there will be plenty of time to debate once we ... define what it is,” said Lucy. He noted there is a process to vet any proposal that is made, including a 60- to 90-day window before any vote on a host agreement.

Cordish officials are sympathetic to residents’ concerns about traffic, Lucy said, with the idea that if people can’t get to the slots parlor, Cordish has done something wrong.

Lucy said he told the Cordish official he would like to see a series of open forums with residents if Cordish chooses Danvers as a location.

How much tax revenue the town might get is up in the air. Given that the casino developer would be leasing space at the mall, Marquis said an increase in property tax revenue would come indirectly through an increase in the mall’s assessment. The town could also see an increase in meals tax revenue, as a slots parlor would probably come with an upscale restaurant. There is also the question of how slot machines themselves might be taxed, whether they could be taxed as personal property.

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