A Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) official recommended that Wynn Boston Harbor, a $2.1-billion project for the establishment of a casino complex on the Everett waterfront, be granted a much-needed environmental permit to proceed with construction.
Work on the hotel and casino complex was halted four months ago after Somerville Mayor Joseph Curtatone appealed a key waterfront permit that the casino had been granted earlier this year. Mayor Curtatone has long been among the staunchest opponents of the project.
Since granted a casino license by the Massachusetts Gaming Commission more than two years ago, gambling operator Wynn Resorts has had to overcome multiple hurdles related to its plan to build the Everett casino. The dispute with the neighboring City of Somerville seems to be the last one on its way towards materializing the ambitious project.
On Friday, Jane Rothchild, a DEP hearing official, said in a 50-page decision that the gambling operator should be given the controversial waterfront permit, only if it follows certain conditions related to the better use of the future resort’s harbor area and the provision of wider open space around the complex.
For instance, Ms. Rothchild proposed the addition of a fishing pier, ferry service, a canoe and kayak launch, and many more. She also recommended that open space around the complex be increased to 6.5 acres, instead of the initially projected 4.5 acres. According to the official, the DEP permit’s term should be 50 years and not the 85 years proposed in the original permit from earlier this year.
Ms. Rothchild wrote in her decision that the Wynn Resorts’ efforts to clean up an area which has been contaminated with various pollutants for decades should be recognized and acknowledged.
It is now up to DEP Commissioner Martin Suuberg to determine whether the gambling operator should be granted the waterfront development permit. Mr. Suuberg is expected to make his ruling in the next several weeks. However, according to people with knowledge of the matter, Ms. Rothchild’s recommendation bodes well for the project.
Mayor Curtatone told media that he is still considering the possibility to appeal the DEP permit to the Supreme Court. According to Somerville’s top official, Wynn Resorts should invest more finances and efforts in dealing with environmental issues that may come as a result from the casino’s construction, including increased traffic.