Wynn Everett Construction Postponed Indefinitely as Somerville Mayor Appeals Environmental Permit

Posted on: February 27, 2016, 10:00h. 

Last updated on: February 26, 2016, 06:32h.

Robert DeSalvio Wynn Everett delays Massachusetts
Wynn Everett President Robert DeSalvio, pictured, is in a heated battle with Somerville Mayor Joseph Curtatone over traffic concerns the Massachusetts casino might generate, and the confrontation could delay construction by a year. (Image: Charles Krupa/AP)

The Wynn Everett in Massachusetts is being indefinitely shelved after nearby Somerville Mayor Joseph Curtatone (D) filed an appeal against the $1.7 billion resort’s environmental permit.

Located two miles northwest of Boston and bordering the Thompson Square/Bunker Hill area where traffic is expected to be most impacted by the casino, Curtatone says an adequate transportation plan has not been realized.

“We still don’t have a meaningful traffic mitigation plan for an area that’s already choked by automobile congestion,” Curtatone said on Wednesday. “Worsening traffic is far more than just a simple nuisance, it is a serious health threat.”

Wynn executives called Curtatone’s motives into question during a press conference held under a tent on the vacant lot where the resort is to be built.

“We are not going anywhere, we will get this amazing project done,” the casino project’s president, Robert DeSalvio, said. “But for now, unfortunately due to the delay that’s caused by the appeal, we are actually going to have to go on hold.

“It’s hard to comprehend how anyone can be against thousands of jobs and millions of dollars in tax revenue that would benefit the entire Commonwealth,” DeSalvio added.

Weathering the Storm

Curtatone’s appeal comes just weeks after Wynn and Boston Mayor Marty Walsh (D) finally came to financial terms on how much the gambling corporation would pay its soon-to-be neighbor annually to build infrastructure to ease congestion.

The number came in at $2 million per year for the next 15 years. Compared to the agreement between Wynn and the City of Somerville that pays $650,000 annually for traffic mitigation, the difference is of course about population and impact.

DeSalvio said Wynn will not revisit the contract and highlighted Wynn’s estimate that for every month Curtatone delays construction, Massachusetts loses $55 million ($660 million annually).

Everett Mayor Carlo DeMaria, a self-described moderate, called on Curtatone to discard his appeal. “For one person to stand in the way and to delay thousands of jobs for nine months or a year… Joe, it’s time to forget the appeal.”

Somerville Boycott?

Proponents of the Wynn Everett have suggested a boycott on Somerville businesses to pressure Curtatone into rethinking his strategy. DeMaria is asking his residents to do no such thing.

“Please do not boycott businesses in Somerville, but continue to educate Mayor Curtatone on the benefits of the Wynn Resort for the entire region, including improved traffic mitigation, opening up our waterfront, cleaning a hazardous waste site and the Mystic and Malden Rivers, and most importantly creating 8,000 jobs.”

Uncertain Future

On Thursday, Governor Charlie Baker (R) said regardless of the scope of the project, the Wynn Everett will receive no preferential treatment.

The two sides will come together on March 10 armed with lawyers for an informal hearing. Should the hearing officer decide a mutual agreement isn’t achievable without additional litigation, the appeal would likely be delayed until sometime in June.

That would be two months after Wynn had planned to break ground. In the meantime, Wynn is canceling seven job fairs across the state and freezing the hiring of 4,000 union construction jobs.