Wynn halts casino site work as Somerville contests permit

Printed from: https://newbostonpost.com/2016/03/09/wynn-halts-casino-site-work-as-somerville-contests-permit/

SOMERVILLE – The $1.7 billion casino development in Everett has stalled, and leaders of the Wynn Resorts project blame Somerville Mayor Joseph Curtatone, who is challenging a permit to clean up the contaminated 33-acre Mystic River waterfront site.

The $30 million remediation of the acreage which formerly held a Monsanto chemical plant, began in October. Wynn officials say that the project was progressing until the Somerville appealed the permit for the site work. The action blocked further work, the developers said in a statement on Tuesday.

“If there was a legal way to continue with our site remediation, we would have done it,” Robert DeSalvio, the president of Wynn Everett, said in the statement. “No one wants this site cleaned up faster than we do.”

Wynn and Somerville agreed on an arbitration process in 2014, which Wynn won. Although Somerville agreed to the settlement, the new appeal reasserts the city’s earlier demands, according to Wynn. Curtatone has also challenged the development over its traffic impact in nearby Sullivan Square, a part of Charlestown that borders on Somerville.

Everett Mayor Carlo DeMaria also had some words for Curtatone: “For someone to say their biggest concern about this hotel being built is the environment, well how about all the people who have died in the city of Everett, who are 
dealing with cancer? This site we’re sitting on is continually leaching into Boston Harbor,” he told the Boston Herald Wednesday.

Curtatone called Wynn’s announcement a “PR stunt” that detracts from issues like the environmental and traffic impacts the casino will have on his city.

“No amount of site cleanup, no matter how welcome, will change Wynn’s obligation under the law to also address those environmental and traffic impacts,” he said in a statement Wednesday. “The responsibility for any delay lies squarely with Wynn. Wynn has known about our concerns for more than two years and has not reached out once to address them. Wynn could solve this and get started if they chose taking constructive action over dishing out spin.”

Leaders of three well-known environmental groups gathered at the site Tuesday to support Wynn and its remediation plan under a Chapter 91 license – which is needed for any waterfront development and is overseen by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection. Supporters included Julie Wormser, the Boston Harbor Association executive director, George Bachrach, president of the Environmental League of Massachusetts, and EkOngKar Singh Khalsa, the executive director of the Mystic River Watershed Association, according to Wynn’s statement.

“The resort casino proposed by Wynn Everett has the potential to transform the former Monsanto chemical property from a forlorn and forgotten hazardous waste site to more productive use and will bring a variety of public benefits to residents of densely developed Mystic River Communities,” Khalsa said in the statement.

“The environment is not the issue to be challenging this site on,” Bachrach said. “Nothing but good environmentalism will come from this development. So I would urge Mayor Curtatone, even in the best interest of his city, to consider withdrawing the appeal to the Chapter 91 license.”

Contact Kara Bettis at [email protected] or on Twitter @karabettis.