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NEW: Worcester to Explore Eminent Domain Taking of Wyman-Gordon

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

 

The City Council voted 10-1 to have the Worcester Redevelopment Authority explore the feasibility of taking the Wyman-Gordon property, which has been mentioned as a possible site for a slots parlor, through eminent domain.

However, the Councilors were quick to point out that the decision was not a response to the interest expressed by Cambridge-based developer Richard Friedman in building a hotel and slots parlor on the 14-acre site near Kelly Square.

"This is something we've been talking about for over 10 years," said Mayor Joseph Petty. "The time to do it is now."

Petty said that the move had nothing to do with the gaming discussion that occurred at the previous week's Council meeting, but instead sprang from the City's desire to further the economic development of the city's center by exploring the possibility of incorporating the Wyman-Gordon site, which has remained undeveloped over the past 15 years.

"We certainly can't waste any more time," said District 2 Councilor Philip Palmieri, adding that he would like to see not only discussions surrounding the property, but action.

District 5 Councilor William Eddy said the Council's move would send a message on two fronts. First, if the site is pursued as a possible location for a gaming operation, the City can focus on working with a developer with a proven track record of success. Second, if a slots parlor is not on the table for Wyman-Gordon, the eminent domain exploration will let the property owners know that the behavior of the past decade will no longer be tolerated.

"Downtown is on the move," Eddy said. "It's time that the people at Wyman-Gordon get on the same page."

Councilor-At-Large Konstantina Lukes was the sole vote against exploring an eminent domain taking of the property. Lukes, who said the last thing she would want to see at the site is a gambling operation, recalled issues that arose when the City attempted to take land through eminent domain in the past. She requested that the City Manager's office produce a report on the history of land takings in Worcester and any litigation or costs associated with them.

"I don't know what the public purpose is going to be," Lukes said of the 14 acres in question.

"I really need to be convinced that Wyman-Gordon is acting against our best interests."

 

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