The Mashpee Casino: Tribe Takes a Look in Bridgewater

Yesterday I wrote about how the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe are still on the hunt for a site for their would-be casino, saying that it was too soon to get excited about rumors of potential locations in Bridgewater-Raynham or New Bedford. That Bridgewater rumor has especially been making the rounds lately and, as it turns out, it does have a good basis. The Mashpee have been in contact with Claremont Companies, a Bridgewater real estate firm that owns 170 prime acres on the edge of town, alongside Routes 24 and 495. “It was initial talks,” Patrick Carney, a vice-president at the firm, said yesterday, calling the discussions “pretty casual.” He said he hasn’t heard from the tribe in two or three weeks.

Carney doesn’t know for sure why there’s been a lag in communication, but it could be that the Mashpee find his 170 acres too cozy. Back in 2007, when the tribe struck a deal with Middleborough to build a casino there, the planned site encompassed 539 acres. Then when the Mashpees ditched Middleborough for Fall River in May 2010, the tribe targeted a 300 acre plot in that town (the Fall River deal ultimately fell through). On the plus side for Bridgewater, Carney’s spot is well located near two highways, and he says the 170 acres are currently vacant, except for one office building. Since the plot sits on the edge of Bridgewater, away from the center of town, locals might be more amenable to allowing a casino there.

Bridgewater town manager Troy Clarkson said that the town has had no direct contact with the tribe, but has a good working relationship with Carney (who, by the way, is of no relation to George Carney, the owner of nearby Raynham Park). “The key to me is the community having a sound relationship with the property owners and being able to work toward mitigation with the community,” Clarkson said, “and we have that with the Carneys.” Of course, whether or not Carney sells or leases the land to the Mashpee is a bridge that won’t be crossed for some time, if at all. As a source close to the tribe told us yesterday, the Mashpee are still evaluating multiple options and it’s too soon to conclude anything. The tribe has checked out dozens of sites like this (which is perhaps why there are so many rumors about where the tribe is going to locate).

But you can file away Bridgewater as at least one place that the Mashpee have, in fact, scoped out.