A press conference on Tuesday saw more than a few prominent environmentalists, developers, elected officials and vexed citizens come to the defence of Massachusetts’ Wynn Everett Casino, when an environmental appeal filed by Joe Curtatone, Mayor of Somerville, threatened to block the completion of the project.
What is it about?
After Wynn Resorts won the rights to develop casinos in the Eastern district, in September 2014, they started work on the Wynn Everett Casino; the project also involved remediation of the brownfield site.
With this appeal, on the grounds of poor environmental impact, still active against Wynn Resorts, the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is unable to grant a key license for them to continue construction on the $1.7 billion casino project.
President of Wynn Everett, Bob DeSalvio, has mentioned at the press conference that “Today, the story is about the environmental stewardship of the property, which we take very, very seriously.”
Officials from Wynn have stated that the outstanding work on the project still includes key environmental remediation – dredging Mystic River, restoring the natural shoreline, building new docks and completing construction on a new harbour walk.
Curtatone raised questions about the sustainability of the project. He argued that the larger traffic of people the casino aims to direct towards Everett will definitely increase air pollution and have a negative impact on his city. He is also opposed to the lengthy, 85-year license and towering height of the building.
Surprising help for Wynn
Boston Harbor Association, Mystic River Watershed Association (MRWA) and the Environmental League of Massachusetts agree with DeSalvio in saying that Curtatone’s appeal is basically uncorroborated; the construction works have proven their notice in upholding their environmental obligations so far by removing contaminated soil and other toxins from the river and surrounding waterfront.
DeSalvio also added that they aim to provide well above the typical standard of environmental remediation at the site and EkOngKar Singh Khalsa, executive director of the MRWA also agrees that theirs plans have environmental merit. He stated, “We recognized that this project could transform the Mystic River here and perhaps throughout the area.”
George Bachrach, President of the Environmental League of Massachusetts believes that Curtatones objection has more to do with the politics surrounding gambling and Massachusetts state laws than environmental impact. Bachrach applauded the project for its promise to facilitate economic growth on top of the positive environmental impact; an estimated 4,000 jobs are expected to be created by this casino.
Everett City Mayor, Carlo DeMaria, called on residents of his city to take a stand against the appeal and fight for the jobs that are being held from them. He also added, “This one person is stopping this from happening; that’s what wrong with government.” “If we could, you would see this work going on behind my shoulder right now,” he said pointing at the river behind him.
Bachrach said that he believes that Joe Curtatone is a good man, who deeply cares about the city,however, given that the environmental impact is not the issue behind his objections, he should withdraw the appeal. According to the DEP, this appeal could easily delay the construction project by another full year.