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Foxboro Reporter > News

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Foxboro Reporter > News
The following letter to Robert Kraft and resort/casino developer Steve Wyyn was written by Foxboro resident Marc Todd, whose Mansfield business, IneoQuest, was recently praised during a visit by Gov. Deval Patrick.Dear Mr. Kraft and Mr. Wynn:I am a business man and an entrepreneur in the high tech field. I live in Foxboro with my wife and four children. The company I helped found 10 years ago is based in Mansfield with employees numbering 145 people worldwide.Quite a bit smaller than your businesses, obviously, but still business that began as a startup and took huge risks, survived and thrived through very tough times by attacking opportunity. My personal threshold and drive for taking risk, solving issues and building something is high, something I admire in people like you. I have always tried to be a positive force with our customers, the community, the people we hire and their families. I believe, as I think you believe; we work for the betterment of our families and community.Often my aggressive desire to invent, expand while manage larger risk is more than the folks around me can tolerate. I find in the heat of that entrepreneur passion I have to re-evaluate and re-center myself to make sure I do not out pace our customers, employees or company.Foxboro Casino ProposalI am telling you this because I think you can understand the type of guy I am and if anyone would vote for the casino in Foxboro it would be me.I have no personal issue with legal gaming. I want progress and more jobs, which I feel are critical to a better life for everyone. I am extremely excited about the idea of a $1 billion building investment, many new jobs plus the potential for huge new tax revenue to the town.When I first heard about your proposal, naturally my imagination contemplated not only what our town could do with a new recurring revenue stream, but also ways our town should negotiate a sweeter deal by discovering additional synergies between the town and your business. I felt that there were many areas we could invent and promote concepts that support both pro-business and pro-town improvement.

Although I had not made up my mind yet, I was very open-minded to such a large opportunity, especially in these economic times.

I have seen the signs that are opposed to the casinos throughout town and I have heard first and second hand the passion of that opposition.

Honestly, I thought, like any public issue, there are people for an issue and against. These folks maybe are not thinking about how expansion and progress would help Foxboro. I am not usually influenced by slogans or arguments. I like to understand the deal for myself and try to decide independently, almost to a fault.

In the spirit of wanting to understand more about the issues and status of the issue in our town government, I attended the Foxboro Advisory Board meeting last night, Dec 21, 2011, at town hall.

Foxboro Advisory Board Meeting

At this meeting, I was impressed by the thoughtful, detailed, serious work done by my neighbors. I learned that this casino issue has consumed our town government and they seem to be working very hard to make sure they execute their duties to both the citizens and the developers fairly within the law.

The research done by the group was very good, the results I am sure you know very well. Gaming businesses are not new and there is good history to learn from. The bottom line seems to be the positives for the town would be jobs and tax revenue versus the negatives which comprise a litany of downside risks from pornography to crime and drugs to increased garbage and more.

Is it possible to mitigate the negatives with planning? Possibly, but no amount of planning will eliminate all the risk.

The more I listened, the more I understood -- the type of community that would accept a casino would be one where the community for reasons of revenue or jobs would accept those downside risks in exchange for solving a more immediate, painful problem. Or it would be a community like Boston that had the resources and structure to accommodate and deal with the downside elements.

Either way, Foxboro does not fit into either of those categories. Foxboro is in no desperate way for money, in fact the town has managed its money very well. Nor is Foxboro in any desperate way in need of casino jobs.

There is no compelling reason that would counter-balance the risk and load Foxboro would be forced to deal with from a casino.

Foxboro is at its heart is a close knit, bedroom community that is very family and school focused. It is who we are. We protect those values through a small town government. We fight about growth versus status quo but in general we all get along fairly well and the town is a great place to live.

When you consider that, you can understand why there are so many emotions involved in the opposition to the casino. Folks genuinely fear the risk to the town, or have personal experience with gaming and have seen first-hand the downsides and have strong conviction that there is no compelling need to take this risk. Furthermore, the Town of Foxboro has no capacity to even evaluate this deal much less negotiate it or implement it without huge influx of structure and grief.

For example, in the discussions at town hall last night, a question was asked about how much money we have spent so far in legal advice investigating issues on behalf of this project and the answer was in the thousands….a few thousand dollars?

I know your companies have top draw legal and finance on staff with supplemental outside council and consultants…against our town officials and a few thousand dollars legal advice..? This committee was correctly discussing how the town could ask you for a few million in funds to get the outside council and consultants required to evaluate all the issues with this project.

It is clear to me; Foxboro is nowhere near big enough to even entertain this. The level of town inspection, research and monitoring a gaming business is far, far beyond our town’s ability and appetite to invest to do so.

We are who we are.

Result

In the process of understanding all of these dynamics, the truth is, there is no way a casino will be built in Foxboro. When I consider now the question of how I will vote, no matter how much I personally can endure risk for upside, this casino is not a good deal for Foxboro.

I will not vote for something that the town is not able to even negotiate, much less manage and I will not vote against my neighbors when the conviction and passion of so many of my neighbors correctly assert a risk adverse posture when it comes to our schools, our town and our lifestyle. Sometimes the issue is not the issue but your vote is who you stand with and I stand with them.

They have been out in front on this, doing the work and I have only now fully considered the entire impact. Thanks to them, I agree and if asked I will respectfully vote no.

Mr. Kraft and Mr. Wynn, I would like to personally and respectfully ask you, to consider my observations and withdraw. Do this before the town has to endure a circus town hall session for a gaming zoning vote.

The support required for changing the zoning to allow gaming by law is two thirds but I would suggest beyond the legal minimum for the partnership to be successful and given the deep convictions of folks and direct threat felt toward the makeup of the town, the support really has to be overwhelming or it is a failure. Anything less than overwhelming support will produce a house divided against itself and Foxboro cannot stand.

It is clear to me that no level of promises or protections can reduce the risks of the downsides of gaming businesses in local community to bring the support level in Foxboro to overwhelming.

Without overwhelming town support, I cannot see Massachusetts agreeing to the project when there are several other communities that have already voted gaming zones with overwhelming support. The politicians at the state house will not want the risk of failure, controversy and bad press for an already controversial issue within the state.

My advice is to please confirm my observation yourself and quickly. If you are not seeing overwhelming support, please move on now.

I think showing Massachusetts this investment team listened to the local community and made a decisive decision for the citizens here would be positive.

Foxboro Neighbors, Selectmen and Casino Supporters

To my fellow Foxboro neighbors, I am proud to live in Foxboro and I could not be more proud of the passion and dedication shown for our town and its welfare. The level of thought and research I have witnessed in combination with the plea from our neighbors not to risk our fragile town with this casino, demands our attention.

To Foxboro Board of Selectmen, I appreciate the democratic goals of possibly putting this casino issue to a vote via the town meeting mechanism. That time has given more of us the chance to look at the issue and understand the proposal better.

However, I think you should consider that this is an issue where without overwhelming support from Foxboro residences the casino could not work going forward. Suppose a third of the town folks were against the casino and it passes, that third are so set in their convictions that they would never accept the result. The town would be divided forever. Every future event, decision or bad thing to happen in the town would include debate, blame and angst attributed to the casino. Some choices are all or nothing, this is one of those.

I think casino supporters will understand that this really does need overwhelming support to even have a chance of success. The supporters are good people who want the same good future for our town and it is not crazy to want town expansion and improvement.

For those that want the casino for the entertainment value, the good news is there will most likely be one maybe two built within 20 to 30 miles of Foxboro that we can visit.

As for that property on Rt1, I am sure we can find a better deal, no doubt Mr. Kraft, who has been our friend, will find another opportunity for that land that will be more in line with our town and our vision for our town’s future.

If Mr. Kraft and Mr. Wynn do not accept the suggestion to feel the pulse of the town, understand that without overwhelming support they should move on, then I ask the town selectmen to vote to do the same.

My suggestion is to give Mr. Kraft and Mr. Wynn the opportunity to withdraw so not to hurt their follow-on business plans as we appreciate their proposal but if they do not, you should act in the town’s best interest to put the issue to rest through Selectman Board vote; respectfully and with one voice, we appreciate the proposal but our community says no thanks to gaming.

Sincerely,

Marc Todd


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