Residents and officials from Raynham and surrounding communities came out late Thursday afternoon to support the Raynham Park LLC “Parx” casino. Not one person spoke in opposition to the project.
The Massachusetts Gaming Commission held a Host Community Meeting at the Raynham Middle School yesterday. Many who spoke at the meeting are hopeful for an economic upturn with the one-out-of-three chance Raynham has for receiving the category 2 gaming license.
Anthony Ricci, CEO of Greenwood Racing and partner of George Carney, owner of Raynham Park, said 75% of jobs at the facility would be full-time positions. “Typically with the business volumes on the weekends, it’s difficult to create 40-hours shifts for everyone,” he said. “Because of the nature of the business, it does lend itself to part-time employment on the weekend.”
Ricci added that in phase 1 of the project, construction of the temporary facility, they expect to employ 603 people with average annual salaries of $42,004. In phase 2, the construction of the permanent facility, they expect to employ 804 people with average annual salaries of $42,680.
“We offer an outstanding benefits package,” Ricci said. “We pay our employees very, very well. We give them the best benefits in the industry.”
Easton Selectman Daniel Murphy was one of many who spoke to the economic losses the dog racing shut-down in 2010 brought to Raynham, and the new job opportunities this facility could bring to the area. “A job does not have to be a six-figure job to be important,” he said, “A return of that type of economic stimulus could be vital in this area.”
Murphy agreed with previous speakers, Mayor Tom Hoye of Taunton and State Representative Angelo D’Emilia about the decision to end dog racing. “[It] was a travesty, and unfair to the Raynham Park and the Carney family.”
Representative D’Emilia said he was very proud of the community yesterday, and he hopes the Gaming Commission will help to “right a wrong” that was done when dog racing was stopped.
Raynham Park is currently finalizing four of the nine surrounding community agreements they will have in place.
Ricci said those communities are: Easton, West Bridgewater, Bridgewater, and Middleborough. “We’ve had numerous discussions with them,” he said, “They’ve been very positive and we should wrap it up very soon.”
Gaming Commission Chairman Stephen Crosby said the awarding of the slots license has been delayed because these agreements are incomplete. “It looks like because of these surrounding communities that haven’t negotiated their agreements yet, that it’s going to be the end of February.”
Crosby acknowledged that Raynham had a “pretty impressive” demonstration of unanimous community support compared to the other two applicants: Penn National Gaming in Plainville and Cordish Companies in Leominster. Both applicants also had host community meetings earlier this week.
Crosby added that Carney and his family should feel very good no matter what happens. “You don’t earn the kind of outpouring of respect and affection for a lifetime of work if it isn’t for real,” he said,” And what we’ve heard is for real.”
Crosby followed up by asking Ricci how he would incorporate and maintain the kind of culture and value system that Carney has done in the past with this new facility. Ricci said that he and Carney share many values.
“There was a natural chemistry,” he said,”I was told by people who were involved in the process that [Carney] had a short attention span with the other candidates he was interviewing as partners, and he, within five minutes said ‘I want to do a deal with him, I like this guy’.”