PLAINVILLE - Selectmen have repeatedly said they intend to have an independent consultant conduct a cost-benefit analysis of a proposal to license 1,250 slot machines for Plainridge Racecourse, but some residents want to make sure of it.
The residents have petitioned town meeting to consider an article that would not only require selectmen to have the study done, but would mandate the results be published before the town votes on the slot machine issue.
The request will appear as Article 43 in the town meeting that is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. Monday at the Wood School.
The vote would be the first conducted by the town about bringing slot machines to Plainville and could be an indication of how much local support Plainridge Racecourse has in its efforts to become the state's first racino, or racetrack with other gaming.
Mary-Ann Greanier, one of the leaders of an anti-slot-machine group, said she has heard the selectmen promise to have a cost-benefit analysis done, but she also questions the board's objectivity.
She said all three members have made comments favorable to slot machines, although they have never voted on the matter.
Passing the town meeting article would ensure that the study is done and voters have the results before they are asked to decide the matter in a referendum vote.
"I do believe the town should not leave this matter to the selectmen," she said. "This way there is no question it will get done."
But, Selectman Rob Rose said the board fully intends to have a study done.
"We have always expected that to be part of the package from the very beginning," he said.
He said the board wants the study to determine what the "rewards and drawbacks" of expanded gambling at the track would be for Plainville.
Town Administrator Joseph Fernandes is the the process of searching for independent consultants to help selectmen deal with the request Plainridge intends to make to become the state's first slot-machine parlor, or racino.
Board members have said no town in Massachusetts has ever had to deal with a slot-machine license request before, so there is no blueprint for handling one.
Under state law, the applicant - in this case Plainridge - would have to pay for the consultant.
The consultant would help the board negotiate an agreement with Plainridge that would be brought to voters for ratification. The agreement would spell out how much the track would have to pay the town from gambling revenue.
The license application would then go to the state's new gaming commission.
Plainridge President Gary Piontkowski said slot machines would not only benefit his racetrack, they would bring more revenue into the horse breeding industry and provide the town with taxes and jobs.
Greanier said her group wants assurances that the money coming into the town would outweigh the costs to the town in terms of public safety, traffic and the harm gambling does to families.
JIM HAND covers Plainville for The Sun Chronicle. He can be reached at 508-236-0399 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.