MASHPEE – The Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe announced today that the Commonwealth of Massachusetts has approved the tribe’s Final Environmental Impact Report for Project First Light.
According to tribe spokesman Sean Gonsalves of Regan Communications, “The decision marks the passage of another key milestone for the tribe’s resort destination casino project.”
Mashpee Wampanoag Tribal Chairman Credric Cromwell issued a prepared statement on the importance of the decision.
“The Commonwealth’s approval is one more step forward for our proposed destination resort casino in Taunton,” Cromwell said. “This report not only represents the final step in the state’s environmental review process, it also affirms the significant economic benefits the project will bring to the region. The approval allows us to accelerate the final design phase of the overall project.”
The tribe submitted the FEIR on Project First Light to the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs last month in accordance with the Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act (MEPA).
The analysis in the report includes responses to comments submitted during the public comment period on the draft report, which was released last year. It also includes changes recommended by state agencies to improve traffic flow and protect the environment.
The Bureau of Indian Affairs released its Final Environmental Impact Statement on the tribe’s land in trust application in early September. The MEPA certificate will now be submitted to federal officials as they prepare a final decision on the tribe’s land in trust application.
The Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe is proposing to build a casino, with hotels, restaurants, shops, and an events center on a 151-acre site in Taunton.
The tribe is still awaiting a decision by the Department of the Interior to place the land into trust on behalf of the tribe.
The tribe states that the construction phase of the project will generate over 1,000 jobs and stimulate approximately $837 million in total economic activity in Massachusetts. The tribe also states, that once completed, the resort’s operation is expected to generate more than 3,500 full and part-time jobs as well as nearly $512 million in economic activity each year.
The Mashpee tribe is known as the “People of the First Light,” hence the project’s name. According to the tribe’s statement, “The tribe has both a strong and long tradition of natural resource conservation, which is also reflected in the project planning. Since the environmental review process began, the tribe has continued to refine the project’s design to avoid and minimize various impacts to the city.”
The tribe has worked with city of Taunton and state officials on an ongoing basis to improve traffic flow in the area, including proposed improvements to the Route 24/140 interchange, according to the statement.