Citing worries about traffic, crime and property values, some residents in Hopkinton and Holliston say they're not sure they want to gamble on a preliminary proposal for a casino in neighboring Milford.

Citing worries about traffic, crime and property values, some residents in Hopkinton and Holliston say they're not sure they want to gamble on a preliminary proposal for a casino in neighboring Milford.


"I'm not nuts about it being so close by," said Brian LeSuer, a Hopkinton resident seeking more information about the project.


"In its present scale, I don't see how it would not have some negative aspect on life in Holliston," said Andy Porter, chairman of the town's Board of Selectmen.


While casinos are not legal in Massachusetts, legislative leaders have warmed to the idea of issuing licenses, a topic that could be broached in the spring on Beacon Hill.


On Monday, a pair of gambling executives presented Milford selectmen with a proposal to build a resort-style casino that could ultimately include up to 13 restaurants and several thousand hotel rooms. The site would sit off Interstate 495's eastern flank, between Rte. 85 and Rte. 16.


The two executives told the board that casino traffic typically trickles in throughout the day, rather than pouring in at particular times. They pledged to seek permission for a new exit off I-495. Before that happens, though, they would use the Rte. 85 ramps and make improvements to area roads.


LeSuer and other residents of the College Rock neighborhood in southern Hopkinton believe Rte. 85 could become a traffic-choked thoroughfare for the casino. They point to their reliance on the I-495 interchange and their need to shop in Milford.


"I don't see how you're not going to have increased traffic on Rte. 85 if you put this in Milford," resident Karen Johnson said.


While the casino proposal is still in the early stages, several area residents have already said they'll sell their homes, said Chuck Joseph, a Hopkinton real estate agent with Re/Max Executive Realty.


Joseph said he cautioned them not to jump the gun, but he believes a Milford casino could have a regional impact, and he's watching what might happen to property values.


"I think the towns in this region should make sure they know what's occurring there," Joseph said.


Tim Kilduff, director of the Hopkinton Chamber of Commerce, called on local officials to begin researching potential ramifications, including how businesses might be affected.


"Who's to say it's going to help and not detract?" he asked.


While Hopkinton has a planned hotel district, selectmen Chairman Brian Herr does not see a casino as a competitor.


But though the proposal could bring a temporary influx of construction jobs and generate some revenue for the state, Herr said it's an unpredictable stream of money that often comes with social ills.


"It's something that can be very harmful to people," he said. "I struggle with that a little bit."


Herr said his board will likely discuss the casino at some point, though it is not yet on the agenda.


In Holliston, Porter said the issue could be a topic at his board's Nov. 9 meeting, with officials already reaching out to state legislators.


Porter said some residents had approached him with traffic concerns, while others are incredulous that Milford was singled out. Others don't believe the proposal will come to fruition.


Porter said he's worried about the impact on water supplies and other elements of the region's strained infrastructure.


"I just think it has to be in the right place," Porter said. "And next door to my town is not the right place."


Any casino proposals are likely to be heard by the Legislature's Joint Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies, led by state Sen. Karen Spilka, an Ashland Democrat whose district includes Hopkinton, Holliston, Medway and Franklin.


Her colleague, state Rep. Carolyn Dykema, D-Holliston, said she has already heard from a dozen constituents about traffic and quality of life worries, with her skepticism of casinos heightened by the proximity of the Milford proposal.


"I'm going to watch the situation very carefully," she said.


But in the College Rock neighborhood, resident Tom Connelly said a Milford casino could capture state revenue lost to Connecticut and was unlikely to bring crime and other social ills.


"I just don't think it's going to be too much of a problem," he said. "It's not Dodge City."


Michael Morton can be reached at mmorton@cnc.com or 508-626-4338.