Middleboro: Selectmen reject casino proposal without public input; some cry foul

MIDDLEBORO – Selectmen are dismissing an informal proposal for a commercial casino with little public input. The casino proposal comes from a developer who asked to remain unidentified until the deal is firmed up.

The developer floated his casino proposal to Middleboro Town Manager Charles J. Cristello but selectmen kyboshed the plan without public discussion. Former selectman Adam M. Bond questions selectmen’s decision and called for an open debate.

“The people in town have a right to know about it,” Bond said.

Chairman Stephen J. McKinnon is sticking to the board’s stance that the town already has a deal with the Mashpee Wampanoags, despite the tribe’s deal with the city of Taunton.

Bond, who was the chief negotiator between the town and tribe in 2007, says McKinnon’s logic is off base.

“What deal?” said Bond noting the tribe has signed a deal with Taunton.

Vice Chairman Allin Frawley rejected the proposal saying he wouldn’t put the town through the ordeal it faced in 2007 when the question for a tribal casino was put to a vote and garnered 2,387 in favor – 1,335 in opposition. The hullabaloo leading up to the historic town meeting pitted rivaling factions of anti and pro casino supporters against each other, which in many cases was neighbor against neighbor.

No matter how McKinnon and Frawley cut it, former selectman Adam M. Bond is calling foul.

“To have a potential business proposition of that size be offered in without even disclosing to the public that that offer was in doesn’t make sense,” Bond said.

Both McKinnon and Frawley lobbied for greater transparency after the 2007 negotiations and called the seated Board of Selectmen to task. Bond says the pair are guilty of their own accusations.

The dynamics have changed since 2007 when gambling was illegal in the state and the Mashpee purposed a casino under the federal Indian gaming laws. Gambling is legal, the new proposal is for a different location and comes from a different entity, and Bond says he is certain the tribe would not get support if they returned to Middleboro.

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About Alice Elwell

Alice Elwell is a freelance reporter who lives on the South Shore. She joined the WATD team to widen our coverage to include Middleboro. She can be reached at acelwell2@gmail.com.