Negotiations between the Kraft Group and the town for Phase II development of Patriot Place have begun with the second meeting between the two sides scheduled for 5 p.m. Tuesday at Town Hall – two hours prior to the Board of Selectmen meeting. Negotiations will be held in executive session and are closed to the public.
The town’s recently appointed negotiation committee consists of four members – selectmen Mark Sullivan and Lorraine Brue, Town Manager Kevin Paicos and Town Counsel Richard Gelerman.
The committee originally consisted of three members – Sullivan, Paicos and Gelerman – but Brue motioned to be added to the negotiating team at the Sept. 25 BOS meeting.
“I think it surprised everybody,” Board of Selectmen chair James DeVellis said of Brue’s motion to join the negotiation committee. “Mark [Sullivan] came into [the meeting] with a plan and he is very excited and eager to put his arms around this. When the motion was made, it kind of set him back a little bit.”
Selectmen agreed at the Sept. 18 meeting – at Gelerman’s suggestion – to limit the negotiation committee to three members.
“The nature of the committee is to keep it as small as possible,” Gelerman said at the Sept. 18 meeting. “Three is as large as we need.”
But after discussion at the Sept. 25 meeting, the selectmen agreed to add Brue to the committee.
“Two [selectmen on the committee] gives us a little more depth,” DeVellis said. “Two people provides the committee with continuity. So if something happens and Mark can’t be there, there is a second member there.”
It also brings multiple perspectives from the town to the table.
“Everyone at the table has different perspectives,” DeVellis said. “Mark looks at it from a certain perspective. I look at it from a different perspective than Lorraine does. Lorraine’s experiences from the term she spent on the advisory committee, plus her first term and now second term as a selectmen is a valuable asset to bring into negotiations.”
DeVellis admitted he, too, wanted to represent the town in Phase II negotiations of development at Patriot Place but felt it would conflict with his responsibilities as chairman of the selectmen.
“I would have enjoyed to be involved in the negotiations,” DeVellis said. “I think I had a lot of insight based on a lot of the larger projects I have done in my professional career. The problem I saw was being chairman of the selectmen, being on that committee and then bringing the recommendations back to the board I’m chairing. The process would be a little conflicted. It’s hard to run a meeting and take a vote on something that I’m presenting. It was a painful thing not to be a part of it.”
As for the negotiating process itself, DeVellis said he expects discussions between the town and the Kraft Group to be positive because there’s a mutual gain in moving forward with Phase II of development.
“There’s tremendous benefit to the Krafts for getting Phase II and I think there’s a lot of potential benefit for the town,” DeVellis said. “Restaurants and good businesses bring in a lot of jobs. I think it is our duty to push for that as hard as we can but at the same time balance the detriments of liquor because it has been a problem. It is not just Foxborough. It’s a problem with youth; it’s a problem with some of the events [at Gillette Stadium]. I think we have to look at all of that – look at the plusses and minuses and decided as a community if this is something we want to do. … “If it moves forward it is going to help the Krafts and it is definitely going to help the town. I think people see that.”
Understanding the Negotiation Process
The town’s negotiation committee has already had its initial meeting with the Kraft Group to begin negotiating Phase II of Patriot Place development and will meet again Tuesday to continue those discussions.
So what does that mean?
DeVellis and Gelerman explain the process of negotiating with the Kraft Group:
“They are going to meet before the selectmen meeting [Tuesday], run it for a couple of hours,” DeVellis said. “Each selectmen’s meeting on the agenda we are going to have an update. Most of it is going to be in executive session but we will be informed every other week as the committee meets. [The two sides] may meet more often but that’s what we have planned now and that’s already started.”
Gelerman said the purpose of the negotiation committee is to represent the town in discussions with the Kraft Group, stressing the committee has no authority to enter into any agreement with the company.
“The process is [negotiate] and then report back to the boards whose interest we are representing,” Gelerman said. “The boards will say either ‘you’re out of your mind, don’t do it,’ or ‘yes, that’s a good idea, try and get that.’”
DeVellis added the Board of Selectmen must endorse the recommendations of the committee for it to be presented at Town Meeting. Once at Town Meeting, the voters must approve it and if approved, the agreement must be reviewed and approved by state legislation because it will involve acquiring more liquor licenses from the state than what is owed to the town.
“It is a lengthy process,” DeVellis said.
More on Acquiring Additional Liquor Licenses
The reason the town and Kraft Group have entered negotiations is because the company is requesting eight additional liquor licenses, which are needed to further develop the shopping, dining and entertainment complex with restaurants, a bowling and entertainment complex and a hotel.
“The Kraft Group’s Phase II for Patriot Place seems to be predicated on them getting liquor licenses,” DeVellis said. “In Massachusetts, there’s only so many liquor licenses that can be given out and that’s based on population.”
Foxborough is already over its quota for liquor licenses from Phase I of Patriot Place development, meaning the town will have to request more from the state if an agreement is reached between the Kraft Group and the town.
“We need more [liquor licenses] than the state allocates us and we need to solicit the state for those licenses,” DeVellis said. “Part of the process is the understanding that with more liquor licenses comes the obligation of policing it. Whether it’s fire, police, traffic, etc.”
And that is why the two sides are meeting at the negotiating table.
As for why it is in executive session?
“Negotiations will be in executive session until the two sides come to an agreement,” DeVellis said. “[The Kraft Group] may ask for something, we may say no. They may change it and that whole process goes back and forth. Once it is ready and that committee is comfortable in presenting it to the selectmen then it becomes a public presentation.”
To read more on what the Kraft Group is proposing at Patriot Place as part of Phase II development, click here.