Wynn Resorts’ $1.7 billion dollar project for the Everett Waterfront has hit multiple speed bumps in an effort to expand its casino locations to the Boston area. Despite the fact that the project endured a ballot initiative attempting to ban casinos in the state of Massachusetts, it still has the issue of it’s traffic impact to continually contend with. The location that was ultimately chosen as the sight for the project is in the midst of what is already deemed by citizens as a “traffic mess”.
Attorney General Maura Healy wrote to the environmental affairs secretary asking that local environment officals deny the Wynn Resort development project a necessary permits to move forward on the project. This measure was meant to hault any advancement on the project until Wynn found an acceptable method to sustain increased traffic around Sullivan Square, an already very congested area of Boston. “If you approve the Casino without a long-term traffic mitigation plan, we may never get one. This dangerous and congested set of roadways may be unfamiliar to many state residents, but it serves as a major regional transit hub and access point”, Healy included in her letter. This letter was preceded by a memo to transportation officials calling for an independent review of Wynn’s traffic plans. Wynn officals say that many of their patrons will be traveling at non-peak traffic times, but there is no doubt the project will be attracting more traffic to the area. Many anti-casino citizens have speculated that this was an attempt to avoid responsiblity for the traffic problems the project would cause. Healy, an anti-casino democrat, stated that it would be irresponsible to allow the Wynn Everett project to move forward unless they are capable of safely handling a significant increase in traffic in the already traffic heavy area.
Michael Weaver, spokesman for Wynn, stated to the Associated Press that the
purpose of this traffic impact review was so that Wynn could accomidate the area for the increased traffic the resort will bring, not fix problems that existed decades before the project was proposed. This project will be among the top largest in Boston’s history spanning 30 arcres of land used previously for industrial purposes and including a massive entertainment complex. Weaver stated that Wynn should recieve the same considerations as any other developer, though their impacts will clearly not be comprable. The City of Boston has even accused Wynn of not filing the permits necessary to enact the changes to Sullivan square.
The Las Vegas developer is being required by the Massachusetts Gaming Commission almost $11 million in immediate solutions to the local traffic concerns and is also requiring Wynn to set asside $25 million for future projects and increased traffic accomidations. There will also be a fine of $20,000 for every car comin in via Sullivan Square over the agreed upon limit with a maximum total fine of $2 million. The document submitted, with all final changes, was over 10,000 pages.
Boston Mayor Marty Walsh was initially very strongly opposed to the project. He has continually insisted that a project this size is not at all compatible with the area they are developing. He even went so far as to file a lawsuit against the Gaming Commission challenging their decision to award the Wynn development project its casino liscense. Walsh and his staff were initially so opposed to the idea that they refused to even speak to developers. This communication freeze-out even included transportation officials involved with the project. As of late, however, lines of communication have seemed to budge a bit as the mayor is suggesting changes to the plans to make it more accomidating to the area, rather than opposing it all together. Only time will tell if the local officals, including the offices of Mayor Walsh, are even moderately supportive of these developmental changes to their community. There seem to be some very strongly opposing forces to the continuation of the development of the Wynn Resort despite the fact that it survived all public and private attempts to completely derail it.
After 3 years of a long and public battle with various officials, organization and committees, Wynn proudly announced on their website for the Wynn Everett Resort that the Massachusetts Deparment of Energy and Enviornmental affairs has finally accepted Supplimentl Final Environmental Impact Report. This will allow them to move forward into actually breaking ground on the construction and completion of the resort itself rather than focusing on solving preliminary issues. In a statement made by Steve Wynn, he implies that it was the support of the Governor, along with the support of his administration, that kept this process open and fair. He also stated in reference to overcoming these meticulous obstacles: “These challenges are familiar to us and in the execution of them, we experience great joy and statisfaction.” The Boston Department of Transportation has also given its approval to the development project. Pre-construction work has begun on the Everett project, site remediation is scheduled to happen this year and the resort is scheduled to be open for business in the year 2018.