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Suffolk Downs' $1 billion Resort Plans Being Met with Strong Opposition

By Chris Cassidy and Dave Wedge, Boston HeraldMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News

June 06, 2012--Suffolk Downs' grand coming-out party for a $1 billion resort gambling palace was greeted with raspberry cheers in some corners of the region, as neighborhood critics vowed to mount a citywide campaign to block the East Boston casino, two city councilors called for a Hub-wide vote and a top Revere official accused the track of shafting his city.

"We're signing up to do battle -- we've officially enlisted," said Celeste Myers, whose No Eastie Casino group officially filed paperwork at City Hall yesterday to raise funds to block the project. "The big thing is to make sure they realize how seriously we take it. East Boston is our life."

The group plans to build a citywide political force to battle the plan. Critic John Ribeiro said he's working on a binding statewide ballot question in 2014 that would repeal casino gambling in the Bay State.

Meanwhile, a classic Hub City Hall battle is brewing over whether a required vote on the proposed casino should be open to all Bostonians or left solely to East Boston residents.

"There is no doubt a casino in the city of Boston will affect every neighborhood," said Councilor Matt O'Malley, who, along with Councilor Charles Yancey, favors a citywide vote. "It's something that's going to affect the entire city for good or ill, and everyone should have a say."

An informal poll of the City Council showed six in support of an Eastie-only vote: Michael Ross, Mark Ciommo, Rob Consalvo, John Connolly, Bill Linehan and Sal LaMattina, who represents East Boston.

Council President Stephen J. Murphy and Councilors Frank Baker and Felix Arroyo are undecided. Councilors Ayanna Pressley and Tito Jackson did not immediately respond.

Mayor Thomas M. Menino also backs an Eastie-only vote: "East Boston is most affected by it."

Meanwhile, Revere City Councilor Brian Arrigo complained his city will largely miss out on meals, sales, hotel and property taxes since all the commercial property sits in Eastie, leaving Revere with horse stables and parking.

"We do deserve our fair share," Arrigo said. "This piece of land doesn't move forward without the city of Revere on board."

Suffolk Downs owner Richard Fields acknowledged: "There are a few people that have legitimate concerns, but we'll deal with them, we'll talk to them, we'll hear what their concerns are."


(c)2012 the Boston Herald

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