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The view from the grandstand during a fairgrounds race in the 1960s. The company that owns Suffolk Downs wants to bring thoroughbred racing back to Great Barrington. Courtesy BerkshireArchive.com

Sen. Hinds reconsiders support for bill to restore horse racing at fairgrounds

By Saturday, Sep 28, 2019 News 5

Great Barrington – State Sen. Adam Hinds (D-Berkshire) has abandoned his co-sponsorship of a bill (S101) that could have re-introduced horse racing and wagering at the Great Barrington Fairgrounds.

In a message to constituents on Friday, September 27, Hinds explained that “conversations that I have had in recent weeks with local officials and constituents proved that there are many issues related to S.101 that could usefully be addressed… As such, today I instructed the Senate Clerk to remove my name from S.101. I am no longer a co-sponsor of this legislation.”

Great Barrington Selectboard member Leigh Davis applauded Hinds’ decision.

At an Aug. 12 meeting, Great Barrington Selectboard member Leigh Davis, right, reads a statement focusing on transparency and what she called a ‘legislative loophole’ in the law. Listening are fellow board members, from right, Ed Abrahams, Bill Cooke and Kate Burke. Photo: Terry Cowgill

“Since voicing my concerns about S101 to the Great Barrington Selectboard in July, I’ve been working with others to shed more light on the troubling aspects of the bill which do not serve our community. Senator Hinds’ willingness to stand with his constituents is highly commendable and his removal of his name from S101 is significant. I look forward to continuing my conversations with him to ensure that any proposed legislation regarding commercial horse racing coming to Great Barrington requires a public referendum.,” she explained in an email.

In his communique to voters Hinds had noted that “over the past few weeks I have met, spoken with, and received testimony from many in my district who are concerned with this proposal:  either because they do not support horse racing as an industry, or, because they are concerned with the legislation as it is currently drafted.

“You may know that I co-sponsored this legislation in January.  I made that decision because I only learned through media reports that a business was interested in resurrecting horse racing at a long-dormant track in my district.  This plan would be dependent upon the advancement of S.101 to the governor’s desk, and I wanted to be a part of that conversation.”

At its August 12 meeting the selectboard received assurances from both Hinds and State Rep. William Smitty Pignatelli that any restoration of racing at the fairgrounds would be subject to local permits.


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