Selectmen Approve Host Community Agreement With Penn National

Under the agreement, Penn will be required to make payments of approximately $4 million annually.

After entering executive session to negotiate the terms of the agreement, Selectmen voted 5-0 in favor of approving a host community agreement with Penn National Gaming for the proposed slots parlor in Tewksbury. 

With the agreement, Penn agreed to invest $200 million into building the facility at 300 Ames Pond Drive.

Penn will be required to make payments of approximately $4 million annually including:
  • $3 million in estimated property taxes
  • $1 million in mitigation payments (this will increase by 2.5 percent beginning in the fourth year of the agreement)
  • $120,000 contributions to fund Tewksbury's capital expenditures
You can read the full text of the agreement by clicking the PDF at the top of this post. 

The agreement also requires Penn to use "significant local union labor" in the construction phases of the project, although there will be opportunities for non-union workers as well, according to Town Manager Richard Montuori. 

The project is expected to create 1,000 construction jobs as well as 500 permanent jobs once the facility is open.

Under the agreement, Penn is required to commission a traffic impact study, infrastructure capacity assessment and fund the infrastructure improvements identified in each study.

These improvements could include some to roads and sewers.

Penn will also be required to reimburse the Town of Tewksbury for any costs related to consultants or temporary staff hired during the process. 

While the host community agreement was approved Thursday night, Tewksbury residents will have the final say on whether or not to bring a slots parlor to town. 

A Special Town Meeting will be held in late August in order to seek the zoning changes needed to build the facility, and a special election in early September for the final vote to approve the slots parlor.

If Tewksbury residents were to approve the slots parlor in the referendum vote, the town will still be competing against other proposed sites including Leominster, Millbury, Raynham and Plainfield.
Per the agreement, Penn will also be required to pay for any costs related to the Special Town Meeting or election. 

Penn National will also be required to donate annually to local non-profits.

According to a release from Penn National, the company donated more than $12.7 million in 2012 to non-profits in jurisdictions where it operates. 

Montuori said he had been working on the agreement for the past week, and recommended Selectmen vote in favor of approving it.

"This is significant revenue to this community," Montuori said. " It's significant revenue one establishment could bring to this community."

Selectman Chair Scott Wilson said he envisions the slots parlor would serve to stimulate commerce in other areas of Tewksbury, including along Route 38. 

"It would be a great start to stimulate other businesses in other parts of town," Wilson said. 

Selectman Todd Johnson asked Montuori if Penn National would be afforded any special provisions related to taxes.

Montuori said they would be treated like any other business coming to town, noting they would also be required to pay the same licenses and fees as well as sewer and water rates.

Wilson said the next steps in the process will be putting the agreement online as well as setting up public hearings so residents can ask questions and voice concerns as the process moves forward.

DCN July 23, 2013 at 02:04 PM
Mr. Sears, not many are aware of this but if one lives in NH and works in MA. <but> has travel work related to NH or another State a mere couple of days per year, they receive their MA taxes back at the end of the year. Check it out. I am not saying that to and from work is adjustable, I am saying for example...if you drive for a living in MA but live in NH and have to drive for a pick up or something, there are adjustments made to not surrender MA tax to the government. A nurse who crosses the border as well, just a few times a year. The only thing needed is a signed paper from a supervisor saying this does occur once in a while. It will be looked into with a fine tooth comb but for honest people, they don't have to worry!
Amanda July 23, 2013 at 03:01 PM
This article talks about Bangor and the impact Hollywood Slots has had on their community. This is a place that Penn repeatedly suggests we compare ourselves to. http://www.casinosno.org/info.php?info_id=53 And this article illustrates some of Penn's business tactics. http://omalleyreport.blogspot.com/2011/03/unite-here.html?m=1
Steve July 23, 2013 at 04:25 PM
For those of you opposed to the slots parlor, you should join the conversation on the "Yes for Tewksbury" post on the "You Know You're from Tewksbury if..." Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/groups/2211461116/) or the pro-parlor Facebook Page "Yes for Tewksbury" https://www.facebook.com/groups/2211461116
Susan Duffy July 24, 2013 at 05:38 AM
Millbury has agreed to a host agreement for a slots parlor too...maybe they'll beat us to it. I was co chair of the Ames Pond Neighborhood Assn group who fought the office park in that same location. The traffic studies from that proposal was NOT favorable to our Town and now in the years since then the traffic on 133 at Ames Pond Dr has increased dramatically. So I can't imagine that the traffic study for this ridiculous proposal would pan out to be any better. (Unless, like with the Mall Proposal, the developers plan to build an off ramp up in the sky that would dump directly into the parcel! Yeah right. What about the swampy area off 495N between Rt 38 and 133? For years there has been a sign there "available for development", but again as with the Mall proposal, I am sure that getting the state to put an off ramp that close in between two others would be difficult.
Karyn July 24, 2013 at 12:30 PM
Thanks, Susan for weighing on on something you know first hand having been directly involved. Any studies by the proponent can always be skewed in their favor as we who have lived it can attest to from the past. As I said before, History repeats itself.....just with different faces and players. As it was with the Mills Mall, this foolish proposal needs to be shut down....it is NOT worth the price.
Amy W July 24, 2013 at 01:35 PM
I just think this is tremendously short-sighted and kind of tells me that maybe the selectmen that are encouraging this do not have faith that Tewksbury can lure other/better companies/industries to move to Town. If our leaders think that this is the best Tewksbury can do to secure revenue, it is really disheartening. I have confidence that the residents know better. Is Tewksbury really the kind of town that can be bought? I hope not.
Jim Wentworth July 24, 2013 at 02:45 PM
It's interesting, but not surprising, to see some of the same people against this proposal as they have said no to numerous economic development opportunities in our community. The Market Basket Freezer Unit comes to mind. A few residents who were focused on NIMBY (not in my backyard) fought against Market Basket, a great community partner to Tewksbury. Market Basket decided that they didn't need the issue with Tewksbury and asked Andover to approve the Freezer Unit just a few miles from the Tewksbury location. Now, Andover residents are reaping the benefits of millions of dollars in property taxes, personal property taxes and excise taxes for all of their vehicles. But these people, again, some of whom are posting on this board, are asking town officials why we can't get more economic development in this town.
Paul July 24, 2013 at 03:19 PM
Jim, I supported the mall and the MarketBasket issue. I am a North Tewksbury resident. I agree the fiscal opportunities to develop the town need to be researched. I would not be opposed to a mall, additional business development or any other REASONABLE proposal to be brought forth for that area. I don't believe that we want the that type of establishment tarnishing what little sense of pride we can claim being from Tewksbury. You are selling us cheap.
Rob R July 24, 2013 at 05:07 PM
Maybe people didn't speak up at the meeting in support due to the fact they'd like to educate themselves about the proposal before passing judgement? People who are attacking a board for actually allowing an important town decision to be voted on by the townspeople just shows ignorance.
Karin Theodoros Zaroulis July 24, 2013 at 06:10 PM
Susan Duffy is correct, as are Amanda, Aimee, Jon and Who me. If anyone should know, Susan should ! The studies in this area were done in the past. The highways to and the roadways through do not support this proposal. The rest of the Town might not realize it, but because there was never an serious interest in developing here along the Andover line, the homes here are now assessed at over 550K, the new homes have sold for almost 800K . The homes on the Andover side of the line, which runs right through this project, are assessed at almost 1million… It's bad enough crime is rampant on 38 because of the low level businesses allowed in there ( supposedly to reduce taxes a thing which has clearly not delivered) Tewksbury does not need to be creating even more crime on the other side of town. This thing is open 24/7 and will serve free drinks from 8AM to 2AM. Who wants their spouses and kids to be whacked out by some drunk driver on the way to school at 7AM? This is being presented as a pro Union job project, but when you read the agreement, it has more loopholes than a kitchen strainer. No Slots Tewksbury Group Page, on Face Book.
Jon July 24, 2013 at 07:10 PM
I wasn't here for any of those debates. I moved here 2 1/2 years ago. I will say that if those proposals did go through I would most likely still have moved to Tewksbury, but if a casino was built (or even being talked about) I would have never even considered it. A lot of people have that same opinion. I wish people stopped throwing around "economic development" with a casino. Study after study prove casinos don't build economic development, they crush it. From Bangor to California, Canada to Florida. They take money out of people's pockets to do home projects or even buy new clothes and sink it into a winless slot (odds are up to 1 in 17 million). Which is twice that of becoming US president. They are black holes in communities, everything around them die. If they were so great for communities wouldn't towns be lining up trying to get them? Not trying to shove it down our throat just under the deadline.
Susan Duffy July 24, 2013 at 07:34 PM
Jim, there is MUCH more to the story re the Market Basket "freezer" plan...it was NOT a NIMBY issue, it was about the mysterious disappearing buffer zone that the residents behind the MB warehouse were promised decades before the proposed expansion, and how that promised buffer zone paperwork mysteriously "disappeared" from the Town Offices.
Resident July 24, 2013 at 09:02 PM
If casino was good for town development every town would fight to get one. Here is why foxboro didn't want one. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cNjJTViwCK0&feature=youtube_gdata_player
Resident July 24, 2013 at 09:07 PM
People of foxboro worked hard to get this info to people. Let's watch why they rejected casino in their town. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cNjJTViwCK0
Karyn July 24, 2013 at 11:33 PM
Again, Susan is correct re. Market Basket warehouse expansion....never WAS a NIMBY issue from the get go.... rather a reneged on promise made to the surrounding neighborhood residents going back 25 years and the infamous disappearance of that promised buffer zone from the plot plan. That's what happens when you build a warehouse smack in the middle of a residential neighborhood. Many meetings were attended and the residents prevailed and rightfully so.
Susan Duffy July 25, 2013 at 08:03 AM
Just to be clear, I am not against development and/or growth for our town-never have been from the day I first became involved with the Ames Pond Proposal which led myself and others to try to get our town to put a moratorium on building until we put together a Master Plan. We lost that moratorium vote on town mtg. floor by 25 (I think) votes, but "won" by getting our town officials to realize that we did need a current Master Plan. I expect our town officials to push for smart, appropriate and "hip" growth. Why can't we attract a high tech, innovative businesses here, or a Whole Foods or Trader Joe's here? Or a Wegmans? I was not against the Mall in South Tewksbury, I was FOR a mixed use development something like what is being developed in Lynnfield (Market St), or in Burlington (Wegmans)-both towns who are right off major highways, JUST LIKE US! Why should we SETTLE for the dregs of development and businesses? Cause it is the "easy" way out? That is what blinded our town officials with the Mills Mall deal-the dollar signs-they saw a quick and "easy" fix to our financial woes without taking the time to do their due diligence to see exactly what affect the development would have on OUR community.
Jane B July 25, 2013 at 08:55 AM
Penn National claims property values will not be affected. Just imagine that you are a someone with (or planning to have) children looking for someplace to settle down. Would you choose a town with a casino or without? The ONLY reason you might choose one with is because you are on a limited income and housing prices are lower than other towns. It makes absolutely no sense to think that a casino will not lower the values of our property.
Rusty July 25, 2013 at 09:37 AM
Jim now do you understand why we were opposed to the Market Basket expansion.Talk about putting your foot in your mouth .
Jim Wentworth July 25, 2013 at 09:54 AM
Good ol' Rusty checking in. I'm well versed in the Market Basket Freezer Unit and it was a NIMBY issue. No worries, the Andover residents are quite pleased with their millions in tax revenue and nice roads while we're driving over a crater filled East Street while we wait for transportation dollars from the state.
Karyn July 25, 2013 at 12:21 PM
Excuse me Mr. Wentworth, but to that answer I would ask how long you have been a resident in Town and did you actually attend and vote at Town Meeting back in 1995 when the infamous Article #47 reared its deceitful ugly head? Check out this link and educate yourself....you may not be as well versed as you think you are. AGAIN it was Demoulas' web of deceit and lies NOT a case of NIMBY-ism. And "no" I wasn't part of that neighborhood but believed in their right to justice. http://tewksburyissues.org/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?f=63&t=5487
Ray July 26, 2013 at 12:53 AM
You people have lost your marbles, you folks need to start up a chat room. Someone should take all these comments and write a book...or start a new day time soap opera, As Tewksbury Turns'' these comments are becoming to funny to read
Susan Duffy July 26, 2013 at 10:51 AM
Great points, Karyn! The reason I get so frustrated with issues as this, is that the majority of people, town officials included, do NOT take the time to get fully informed on the pros and cons of an issue BEFORE forming an opinion! I have always been able to "agree to disagree" with someone if I feel that if they have done their due diligence. (Remember the BOS mtg re the Mall where only one of the BOS actually read the 400+ page traffic study before voting? Aaargh!) I am NOT a NIMBY. I am FOR smart, current and intelligent growth for our town. Does T.C.P.G. ring a bell? We brought an article to town meeting for a temporary building moratorium until our town could put together a Master Plan for growth. The article failed by 25 votes, BUT the town did realize that we needed a Master Plan and we now have a current plan is a result of those efforts. I was, and am not against, the development of the Tri Town Junction area (the old Mills Mall proposal). I am FOR smart & intelligent development, mixed use, like what is being built up in Lynnfield (Market St), and in Burlington (Wegmans), for example. With our town wedged between TWO major highways and TWO state roads running thru it, we should be able to attract upscale developments, retail and high tech/research facilities! What about a Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, Legal Seafoods, a Panera Bread, a Dick's or Sport's Authority??? How about a dog park, a "spray" ground, or a nice outdoor stage somewhere (why do we have to go to Lowell for these types of attractions?), that would attract people to come to our town to "play" and hang out, and SPEND money at our small businesses? We are surrounded by affluent communities around us that would come and shop here, such as Westford, Chelmsford, Andover, etc. We sow what we reap, because we keep settling for "get rich quick" developments. Our town is known for being "anti development" because dumb proposals that are not well thought out get shot down by smart people who care and do their research. NOT just by NIMBY's either. Until we can change our "reputation" and work HARD to attract smart growth type proposals, we will continue to bear the brunt of crappy proposals like we are facing now.
Karyn July 26, 2013 at 11:11 AM
Bravo, Susan! Well said.
Ethan S July 30, 2013 at 10:59 PM
People who support a slot parlor in Tewksbury do that because of promised financial benefit – tax revenues and jobs for the town and (maybe) themselves. But no matter who wins at the slot machines, the town will suffer a net loss of revenue. Why? Because any money that comes to the town or to casino employees is a partial kickback from money lost by gamblers. (Neither Penn nor their towns make a penny when a gambler actually wins.) It is tempting to think: “Let the losers pay my taxes and support my town,” but for the town as a whole, and most of us individually, it is a bad deal. Whatever we will get back is only a fraction of the money being taken out of our communities. The rest will go out to Penn’s CEOs and shareholders. Quite apart from gambling’s moral and ethical problems, no matter how accommodating the folks from Penn try to be, the proposition has to be a net loss for the community. What will the real costs look like? The problem is that they are indirect and usually hidden, and supporters will claim that the casino is not responsible for them – but property values will be lower than they would otherwise be, local business will receive no money for the groceries, rent, clothing, cars, and appliances that are not bought because the money to pay for them was lost in pursuit of winning. It is guaranteed that the losers will lose substantially more than the winners – otherwise Penn could not be such an aggressively profitable business. Penn spoke of lowering crime by supplying (minimum wage?) jobs- but did not speak to the potential for crime committed by the many more who don’t get the jobs and are then lured into losing their last few hundred dollars in hope of winning next month’s food and mortgage payment. There are too many empty commercial properties on Main Street now- Penn will imply that a casino will help, but the economic logic can’t be promised away – an established casino will make it worse. Bringing in a slot parlor is fundamentally different from bringing in a Thermo-Fisher or a Raytheon, because those companies have income streams that come to us from outside, from the nation as a whole. Money does go back out, but the profit to the community in wages and taxes is real. A casino-type operation, on the other hand, just gives back part of what it takes while trying to make it look like a gift. Remember that Penn is very capable of mounting a multi-million dollar public relations campaign that will make us feel like we’re selling grandma down the river if we vote against it.
Karyn July 31, 2013 at 01:12 AM
Very well said, Ethan. The best advice is to tell every Tewksbury registered voter you know to attend Special Town Mtg. on Aug. 20th to vote NO to a re-zone. Penn needs 2/3 of a yes vote to succeed. If we nip it in the bud there it will never even MAKE it as far as the ballot.
J. S. July 31, 2013 at 08:12 AM
I am not sure what you mean by "Quite apart from gambling’s moral and ethical problems" ..... one cannot legislate on these issues. I, for one, do not have any moral or ethical issue with gambling. Do you also with all the money spent on gambling at church bingo every weekend? or raffles at every fundraiser in town? or scratch tickets and lotteries? They are all the same. Alcohol as well is also a moral and ethical issue, and that costs thousands of lives every year and we have plenty of bars and liquor stores in town. The best advice is to keep an open mind and vote YES to to a re-zone if you agree when you hear the facts or no if you don't. Do not be scared by what people say 'might be'. A slots parlor is not going to bring in prostitutes and the mafia.
Susan Duffy July 31, 2013 at 08:14 AM
Jim Wentworth, with all due respect, the Market EXPANSION, a proposal for a small addition to the existing warehouse in Tewksbury, was projected by our Town Manager, Cressman, to only bring in a "few thousand dollars in tax revenue" for our Town. ( See newspaper quote at Tewksbury Issues site) So your comments that we are losing "millions of dollars" in tax revenues because we said "no" to the expansion is incorrect. Market Basket built/retrofitted an entire NEW warehouse space in Andover, a much larger space-a NEW addition to Andover's tax base-so THAT is why the data you are quoting is not the correct data to compare against Tewksbury. So our town did NOT lose out on millions in tax revenue because, as you say, the NIMBY's voted it down. The fact is that proposal failed to get enough votes by the Tewksbury PLANNING BOARD. Also, you have yet to answer Karyn's question re if you were involved at all in the meetings re that expansion plan?
Susan Duffy July 31, 2013 at 08:46 AM
Jim, no need to answer, according to your campaign website, you made Tewksbury your home 14 years ago...
Jane B July 31, 2013 at 11:17 AM
J.S. I'm quite sure that Ethan did not mean "the moral and ethical problems" were with the gambler but rather with those who try to get people who can least afford it to gamble away money they need to live on in the hopes of hitting it big.
Ethan S July 31, 2013 at 05:14 PM
J.S. No doubt it would have been clearer had I said "issues" rather than "problems." The intent here was just to acknowledge that there are other controversial areas of concern which I am not addressing.


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