Editorial: Highs and lows from the last week

Editorial: Highs and lows from the last week



(LOW) ​​​​​​The old Bradford Dyeing Association complex in Westerly, once home to one of the town’s biggest employers, has had a long history of problems — disasters, really — both before and after its current owner took over in 2009. There was fire in the spring of 2007, flooding three years later. Litigation over water pollution became a chronic issue as the company found itself at odds with private citizens and government agencies. The EPA even put a lien on the property for its expenses in removing hazardous materials before Superstorm Sandy struck in 2012.

Meanwhile, the structures, including the main factory, built before World War I, were deteriorating and had become a fire hazard. Nick Griseto, a former BDA executive, sought to revive the facility, but he could never surmount a series of financial, tax, and legal challenges. The property was a no-man’s-land in terms of fire protection, and it went into receivership after a loan default. When he couldn’t keep up with his taxes, the Town of Westerly became his co-owner. Finally, a forklift accident that injured a worker in May, and an attendant safety report, prompted the state fire marshal to order that the property be vacated.

Griseto’s tenants have been inconvenienced, but for him the order was, as he said Saturday, “a blessing in disguise” because he didn’t have the resources to improve the property. But who does? After he hands the keys to the town, it will be left holding the bag. The property, as we reported, became subject to the federal Superfund law last month, but according to the EPA, it “cleans up orphan sites when potentially responsible parties cannot be identified.” That’s hardly the case here, even if the town has a grant for an environmental assessment. This story is far from over.

(HIGH) Back in 1976, when there wasn’t a “wealth management” office on every corner, Malcolm A. Makin founded Professional Planning Group. He was certified as a financial planner in 1981, and became a national leader in the industry. Three of his four sons followed him into the business at PPG, and he can probably count as many victories on the golf course as he has in his professional life. He is the picture of success. But to those who know him, his back-story is no less important, because he had a hard life as a child. In accepting the Ocean Community Chamber of Commerce’s Citizen of the Year Award, he said, “There’s no reason on God’s green earth that I should be standing here tonight. But I am … because someone made sure that a little kid got what he needed.” Those acts of kindness had a lasting impact, because Makin went on to become that “someone” himself for many people and organizations in Westerly, Charlestown, and other places. “Mal represents what makes our community great,” state Sen. Dennis Algiere said. We agree: Westerly has been blessed with benefactors who have helped to sustain an array of civic groups and institutions that enhance the town’s quality of life. Makin stands tall among them.

(LOW) If we must at every turn counteract MGM Springfield, it follows that Connecticut needs to get more drinkers behind the wheel at 4 o’clock in the morning. That’s the upshot of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission’s decision last Thursday to allow extended alcohol service to gamblers on MGM’s casino floor when it opens on Aug. 24. Last call will be two hours later than at other alcohol-serving businesses in Massachusetts; Connecticut also has a 2 a.m. cutoff on Friday and Saturday nights. Massachusetts public radio quoted an MGM official as saying that “Folks are used to going to casinos throughout the country, and having an experience where they can game and consume alcohol without a cutoff hour. It’s really industry competition.” Sure enough, a spokeswoman for Foxwoods Resort Casino told The Day that if other states relax their laws, “we’re going to have to do the same.”

The Massachusetts commission, in a nod to opponents, stipulated that MGM give it a progress report after 90 days. Certainly it would be a good idea to quantify the effects of free liquor until 4, although it would be better if somebody other than the casino company paid for such a study. The state’s restaurant association opposed the idea, as did the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. This is just the latest flare-up in a series of provocations that MGM has posed to Connecticut’s tribal casinos. Hard evidence to suggest that MGM will produce big layoffs at Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun does not seem to be readily apparent, even if one concedes that more competition will hurt what could be called the tribes’ corporate interests. The casinos here have diversified as entertainment, convention, and shopping destinations, and are part of an attractive tourism region that includes the shoreline areas of Connecticut and Rhode Island. Springfield, on the other hand, may be more akin to places like Waterbury, say, or Bridgeport, and putting a gambling hall there is unlikely to magically transform it. Don’t jump at everything they do.


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