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Union Station a go even if busline doesn't move

Date: 3/21/2013

By G. Michael Dobbs

SPRINGFIELD — Peter Picknelly, president and CEO of Peter Pan Buslines, insisted his stand on not moving into a revitalized Union Station is "nothing new," but it may have a surprised a few people when he made the comment on an unannounced appearance on the Bax and O'Brien Show March 14.

Kevin Kennedy, chief development officer for the city of Springfield, told Reminder Publications the Union Station project will go forward with or without the participation of the company.

Picknelly appeared on the Bax and O'Brien Show saying that if Penn National Gaming — with whom he is a 50-50 partner in the proposed Hollywood Springfield casino — doesn't win the bid for a gaming license his company would not move into Union Station.

"I made it clear to the city numerous times," Picknelly said.

He would not move into the building across from his present terminal "unless there is a re-use of the property."

Picknelly's property and that of The Republican would make up a significant part of the casino footprint along Main Street.

He added, "It's illogical to leave that property, to move across the street and pay rent. Everyone understands that. It's nothing new."

Picknelly contended he has never been told what the rental costs would be to move into Union Station.

Kennedy confirmed there is only a letter of intent between the city and the bus company about moving into Union Station.

"It's not legally binding," Kennedy explained.

While Kennedy said Picknelly's position about a re-use of his terminal isn't new to him, the context for the discussion is new.

"The project is going to be successful," Kennedy asserted. "It [a lack of Peter Pan Buslines involvement] does not make the project unfeasible."

Kennedy said the bus company was going to rent several bus bays and an area for ticketing in Union Station.

MGM Resorts International has made the promise to bring its offices into Union Station if that company wins the casino license, Kennedy said, something that would greatly add to the building's value.

Speaking to the possibility of MGM Resorts International winning the license and working with other bus companies, Picknelly said, "I'm simply not going to let some goons from Las Vegas come in and threaten our company and our employees."

Speaking of the potential pressure being put on Mayor Domenic Sarno's administration by Picknelly's statements concerning casino selection, Kennedy said the process "is immune to any type of threats or intimidation."