Town officials are weighing in on the impact that a proposed new casino and horse racetrack in Wareham could have on Bourne.
Officials have expressed cautionary optimism over the new venture.
The mixed-use $300-million project would be developed on 275 acres off Glen Charlie Road, to the north of Route 25 in Wareham—a quick drive from Bourne.
Dubbed Wareham Park, it would feature a thoroughbred racing facility with a one-mile racetrack; a ballpark for the Wareham Gatemen of the Cape Cod Baseball League; a hotel; and a sports complex with permanent fields and other athletic facilities.
State law allows for up to three casino licenses and a slots parlor in Massachusetts. Plainridge Park Casino, near the Rhode Island-Massachusetts border, holds the one slots license. Wynn Resorts Ltd. opened its $2.6 billion casino, Encore Boston Harbor on June 23. MGM Springfield casino opened to the public in August 2018.
Wareham Selectmen Peter Teitelbaum has said that the land the complex would be built on would need to be rezoned. That would require a two-thirds majority approval by voters at Town Meeting.
Currently, the land is zoned residential, although a gravel operation is now run on the property. Mr. Teitelbaum has also said that the developers would be looking for a new on/off ramp from Route 25 so visitors would not have to drive down Glen Charlie Road.
Reaction in Bourne to the project has been guarded but hopeful. Bourne Board of Selectmen chairman Judith M. Froman declined to comment for the other board members, but said she was confident the project would prove beneficial to Bourne.
“My personal thought in relation to the Town of Bourne is that we can turn whatever happens into a positive,” Ms. Froman said.
Selectman Peter J. Meier said the casino would be a financial boon for Wareham.
He said that upward of a thousand jobs would be created and the town would collect an annual $5 million host community fee.
Mr. Meier did express concerns about the new facility’s wastewater creation, whether that flow will somehow wind up in the Cape Cod Canal, and what kind of effect that will have on the canal’s waters and marine life.
He also expressed concerns about potential traffic impacts to Bourne as a neighboring community.
“The board of selectmen has great working relationships with the town administrator in Wareham and the Wareham board of selectmen, and I hope that through this process that dialogue continues,” he said.
From an economic development perspective, Mr. Meier said the new facility could provide customers to businesses already in Bourne or looking to open in the downtown business district. He said that people who choose to vacation at the complex’s hotel might venture out and come to Buzzards Bay “to frequent our places.”
“That’s why the boards of selectmen in both towns need to work together, and make it a win-win for both towns,” he said.
Planning board chairman Steven P. Strojny agreed. Mr. Strojny said that Wareham has always been a good neighbor to Bourne and he “looks forward to talking with them about how the two towns can benefit from this.”
Mr. Strojny said his philosophy has always been that people in Bourne should consider themselves one town and not seven villages. By the same token, Bourne should not look at what is best only for it, but what is best for the area, including Wareham, Sandwich, Falmouth and Mashpee.
“I’ve always been eager and anxious to work with other towns to help each other out,” he said.