Baker aims to get Wynn, Somerville to work out casino deal

Printed from: http://newbostonpost.com/2016/02/24/baker-aims-to-get-wynn-somerville-to-work-out-casino-deal/

BOSTON – Gov. Charlie Baker plans to step into the latest controversy holding up a planned $1.7 billion casino in Everett, telling WBZ-AM radio Wednesday night that he aims to get the development moving again by getting Somerville and Wynn Resorts casino officials to meet and iron out a solution.

“We’re going to get the two sides together and see if we can get this thing back on track,” Baker said during an appearance on the station’s “Nightside” program. “Our goal is to see if we can get the parties together and get this resolved.”

Somerville appealed to the state Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs a week ago to hold up a permit issued to the project being developed by Las Vegas casino operator Wynn Resorts. The appeal challenges the state’s decision to grant the environmental permit last month, according to the Associated Press.

Earlier Wednesday, Robert DeSalvio, Wynn Everett president, put off a planned groundbreaking for the project in April, according to WBUR-FM in Boston. It said a job fair to recruit people for some of the 4,000 expected openings at the casino was also put off.

Mayor Joseph Curtatone, a Democrat who opposed siting the development across the Mystic River from his city, said Friday the project will have serious consequences to the health of residents in his community. An estimated 18,000 people a day are expected to drive to the casino, the mayor said, “choking local roadways and pumping tons of extra exhaust into the air we breathe.”

Somerville already has four other legal challenges pending against the project, AP reported. Wynn holds the lone state gambling license for the Boston area.

In a statement issued last week, Wynn cited Somerville’s support for plans to develop Assembly Square will add almost as many vehicle trips in the Sullivan Square area as the casino. The company said it has committed $265 million for traffic mitigation work in the area, while Somerville plans to spend $116 million.

Wynn has said its casino, once in operation, will generate $660 million a year in economic activity and taxes, or about $55 million a month. The figure includes $170 million in salaries and $242 million in taxes and fees.

Boston recently dropped its legal challenge to the project after Wynn agreed to increase its annual compensation payments to the city. Mayor Marty Walsh had complained primarily about traffic congestion likely to arise in Charlestown’s Sullivan Square area.

Under the agreement with Boston, Wynn agreed to pony up $25 million for infrastructure work in the area over 10 years, as well as $11 million for traffic mitigation in Charlestown, along with other financial commitments, according to State House News Service.

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