Concerns aired about Suffolk Downs’ plans for horse racing at fairgrounds

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Great Barrington — A arguable horse-racing invoice pending within the state Legislature has aroused issues among metropolis officials about a proposal from Suffolk Downs to carry racing back to the Great Barrington Fairgrounds.

Sterling Suffolk Racecourse, the company that operated the now-closed tune at Suffolk Downs in East Boston, has reached a settlement with the fairgrounds proprietors to bring thoroughbred racing again to Great Barrington for as much as 30 days of racing in the months of September and October starting in 2020. The organization expects to spend among $15 million and $20 million, in step with town supervisor Mark Pruhenski, who lately spoke with Chip Tuttle, Suffolk’s chief operating officer.
But with a view to do so feat, Suffolk wishes an alternate in state law to allow it to maintain races in Great Barrington even as on the equal time allowing it to maintain it’s simulcasting and betting operations again in East Boston. Racing on the fairgrounds would also require allows from the town.
Two payments that might do so feat are pending in the country legislature: Senate Bill one hundred and one and House Bill 13. The Senate bill is co-sponsored by Sen. Adam Hinds, D-Pittsfield, who represents Great Barrington. The sponsor is Sen. Joseph A. Boncore, D-Winthrop, whose district consists of Suffolk Downs. The Massachusetts Gaming Commission is sponsoring the House bill.
Selectboard member Leigh Davis requested that the challenge be put on the time table for Monday’s meeting. She read a lengthy announcement at the system and presented it as a motion. Click here to read it. She later issued a revised announcement.

Davis questioned why extra city officials weren’t made privy to the law and why the metropolis of Great Barrington was now not represented at a public listening to on the bills on July 1 earlier than the Joint Committee on Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure. She pointed to a recent article on the listening to inside the State House News Service.
“This funding could turn a broadly speaking dormant assets into a three-season enjoyment and endeavor venue that, further to racing, could host concerts, agricultural activities, and different equine activities,” Tuttle stated on the listening to.
Davis additionally said the bill might put off the requirement for a public forum and referendum on the Suffolk thought and as an alternative “an easy majority vote by way of the select board might allow the economic race tune to transport ahead.”

She later clarified to The Edge that the law might permit for a referendum if 12 percent of registered electorate in Great Barrington petitioned for it. The Edge did the math. As of the yearly town election in May, Great Barrington had four,746 registered electorate. Therefore, approximately 570 voters would need to sign a petition for a public referendum on racing.
“What’s critical to notice is that we’re no longer speakme about the revival of an agricultural honest that includes horse racing for 10 days 12 months,” Davis stated. “We’re speaking about an industrial horse racing operation entering into a metropolis with the legal right to run races up to forty days a yr. Then, with their foot in the door, potentially petition the country to later upload sports activities having a bet and different types of playing.”
Davis proposed that the town send an e mail and a letter to both chairs of the Committee on Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure with the aid of July 24 asking for that “Bill S.101 be held in committee and not circulate ahead until the Town has performed an open forum inviting all interested events.”
Time is of the essence, she advised, because the modern legislative consultation is set to stop. After tremendous debate, Davis’ movement failed for lack of a 2nd.
Some individuals of the select board insisted the town might still have adequate capacity to weigh in on the matter. Town Planner Chris Rembold has said the venture would want at least two unique allows: One for commercial enjoyment, any other for flood simple safety and likely a 3rd for paintings inside the city’s water satisfactory safety overlay district.
All would require public hearings in which citizens ought to air their worries or specific guide for the task. Most of the fairgrounds belongings lies in a floodplain next to the Housatonic River. The requirement of a unique allow is broadly considered within the making plans and zoning network as setting a municipality inside the driving force’s seat in confronting a doubtlessly unpopular mission.
“Section 12 of this bill keeps our right to weigh in in this, so it couldn’t manifest until we are saying it can appear,” Selectman Ed Abrahams said.
“Let’s pause this and maintain it in committee till we’ve got greater records,” stated Davis, who changed into elected to the board this spring.

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