Wynn Boston Harbor Environmental Permit Panned by Former DEP Commissioner

Posted on: June 3, 2016, 02:14h. 

Last updated on: June 3, 2016, 02:14h.

Wynn Boston Harbor Joseph Curtatone
Somerville Mayor Joseph Curtatone is standing in the way of Wynn Boston Harbor construction, but the casino’s odds seem to be moving in its favor. (Image: Angela Rowlings /Boston Herald)

Wynn Boston Harbor received an environmental permit in January from the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), but a former DEP commissioner testified on June 2 that more stringent protocols and mandates should have been incorporated into the project’s approval.

Speaking at a DEP hearing in Boston, former department Commissioner Robert Golledge opined that the agency failed to properly protect the Boston, Everett, and Somerville communities by approving what he called a mitigation package that is “essentially average.”

“Given the size, mass, and location . . . I would have expected a much larger and more robust mitigation package,” Golledge said, as reported by the Boston Globe.

Wynn for the Win

The DEP hearing was the result of Somerville Mayor Joseph Curtatone (D) appealing the permit issuance in January, a motion that has forced Wynn to halt construction on the $2 billion casino resort.

Wynn reached two separate agreements with Boston and Somerville in 2015 to pay each city annually to offset the additional congestion caused by the casino to the already gridlocked area.

However, the money is significantly different.

Wynn agreed to pay $2 million each year for the next 15 years to Boston, but only $650,000 annually to Somerville.

The Wynn Boston Harbor would be built just across the Mystic River via the Malden Bridge.

Billionaire Steve Wynn has been blunt in dealing with Curtatone. “The chances of the mayor of Somerville getting any extra money from us are zero,” Wynn said in March. 

Curtatone’s Curtain Call

The DPE hearing didn’t seem to present much optimism for Curtatone. The DEP said according to the permit’s conditions, Wynn has met all of the requirements and should be allowed to move forward.

Representatives of the Las Vegas casino company hyped its six-acre waterfront park that will be made available to the general public. The area is currently closed off due to chemical contaminations stemming from the defunct Monsanto chemical plant that previously called the acreage home.

Wynn was in the process of cleaning the land when Curtatone stepped in.

Curtatone says the casino, expected to increase traffic in the area by 18,000 cars a day, would create so much pollution that the project needs to be blocked. Wynn retorted by claiming Curtatone is all smoke and mirrors in overlooking the fact Wynn Boston Harbor would create 4,000 construction jobs and 4,000 permanent casino positions.

DEP Commissioner Martin Suuberg is tasked with determining if the DEP permit needs amending, but that decision isn’t expected until next month or even August.

In the meantime, Curtatone is spending hundreds of thousands of taxpayer money fighting Wynn. According to Boston.com, since last July when Somerville’s fiscal year commenced, Curtatone has spent $399,758 on legal fees for the Wynn fight.

But it seems the clock is ticking on his ongoing efforts. Curtatone understandably wants to get the most bang for his buck for his city, but he’s facing a billionaire who is no stranger to getting what he wants.

The odds would seem to favor Wynn Boston Harbor getting back to work in the coming months.