Somerville continues opposition to Wynn Resorts

Jun 3, 2016 9:57 AM

Somerville, Mass., Mayor Joseph Curtatone sounds like a man hoping for an offer he could not refuse.

But the phone did not ring, he conceded, nor were there any visitors at his door with offers of any kind as he and the city’s lawyers waited for this week’s hearing before a state environmental official that may determine when work begins on the $2 billion Wynn Resorts project to be known as Wynn Boston Harbor in neighboring Everett on the Mystic River near Boston.

All work and the hiring of people to work on the hotel and casino, the state’s largest private construction project, has been shut down as Wynn strategists waited for what they see as a series of “nuisance law suits” to subside.

“This is not about stopping the casino,” Curtatone told the Boston Herald. “This is about mitigating the negative impacts on our community. We’re prepared to go as far as we have to go. We’re not going to relinquish any legal option we have at our disposal, including appealing.”

Wynn and supporters of the resort project have been successful at each step in the process leading to the start of construction but the “obscure Chapter 91 permit” cannot be granted until appeals have been exhausted.

Somerville is arguing the casino and hotel will lead to increased boat traffic, leading to more pollution  and strain on its police services.

Curtatone said. "They should have gone through a thorough environmental review prior to a permit being issued and they should have to truly and accurately mitigate the negative impacts of that project...

"We're abutting a major environmental justice zone. This area is surrounded by this transportation infrastructure, much of it is not sufficient to meet the needs of a growing urban region today, and although Steve Wynn's project is not the cause of the negative traffic conditions that we see in the region today, it will certainly compound them," Curtatone said.

A decision on the Somerville appeal will come in about a month. The resort would probably open about 28 months after the start of construction, whenever that is.

Phil Hevener has been writing about the Nevada gaming business for more than 30 years. Email: [email protected]