Holyoke's mayor has reversed course again and is now halting all casino development plans in the western Massachusetts city.
Alex Morse said in a statement (PDF) on Thursday that he regrets his earlier change to consider negotiations with developers interested in bringing a casino to Holyoke.
Morse defeated an incumbent mayor in 2011 after running on a strong anti-casino platform. But he stunned backers last month when he announced a new "strategy" to entertain casino proposals. He cited the possible impact on Holyoke of a casino in nearby Springfield.
Morse said in his statement Thursday that while a casino might be coming to the region, "it will not be coming here." He said:
Late last month, I announced a change in my strategy to address the reality of a casino coming to our region. Since that announcement, I have come to recognize the flaws of such strategy. It has become increasingly clear that pursuing this conversation will only be a distraction from my administration’s broader economic goals, and I regret not realizing this fact sooner.
The mayor also said he would return $25,000 "grants" paid to the city by two potential developers who sought to have their proposals reviewed.
In his statement, the 23-year-old added:
Ultimately, I hope to build on this humbling moment and to become a better mayor as a result. We still have much work before us, and I am grateful that by listening, and with your support, I am now back on track.
With reporting by The Associated Press and the WBUR Newsroom
This article was originally published on December 13, 2012.
This program aired on December 13, 2012. The audio for this program is not available.