By Mayor Martin J. Walsh
As Mayor of Boston, I have one priority: to fight for what is best for the people of Boston. In Charlestown, that priority took center stage when Wynn Resorts proposed building a new casino in Everett, directly and significantly impacting the residents of Charlestown. During my first two years in office, I was ultimately able to negotiate a Surrounding Community Agreement with Wynn Resorts. This year, funds from the agreement will begin to be distributed.
The agreement, created after many legal challenges, represents the largest community benefit we could obtain from the Wynn Casino: as part of that agreement, Wynn has made a one-time payment of $1 million, and additionally, Wynn Casino will pay a Community Impact Fee of $2 million annually as long as the casino is operating. These funds, and the additional funds secured in the Surrounding Community Agreement, will be used to help mitigate some of the impacts of the casino.
It is critical that money from the Fund is invested back into Charlestown — in our youth athletic leagues, our senior programs, our parks, our after-school programs, our streets, our small businesses and our infrastructure. All of these make up the heart and soul of our communities.
This is why I worked, with the assistance of the Boston City Council, to create the Charlestown Community Impact Fund. The Fund is overseen by a Managing Committee, on which both City of Boston staff and members of Charlestown’s elected delegation sit, and will be responsible for distributing the funds in the account.
The Fund will be managed openly and transparently, and will support a wide range of Charlestown community programs. My Administration will be working closely with State Senator Sal DiDomenico, State Representative Dan Ryan and City Councilor Sal LaMattina to ensure that your voices are heard and your needs are met, and I would like to thank them for their ongoing support and partnership throughout this process.
As we begin distributing the first payment of $1 million, it is important to remember that this funding is the only money Boston will be receiving from Wynn Resorts until their casino opens, which is projected to be in approximately two and a half years. Our intention is to make sure that this $1 million is spread out across as many local groups as possible and that this funding is sustained until the casino opens.
The Managing Committee plans to award a large number of small grants over the next few years, prioritizing small, local nonprofits and applications for one-time projects, so that as many residents as possible receive the benefits of this initial funding. To achieve that goal, mini-grants will be awarded twice per year in the spring and fall. I am pleased to announce that the first round of applications is now available. The deadline to apply is Saturday, April 15, 2017 and awards will be given out in late May.
My Administration has created an easy to navigate webpage dedicated solely to providing up-to-date information regarding the Charlestown Community Impact Fund. We wanted to provide a user-friendly site where you can obtain information about how to apply for mini-grants as well as relevant documents and updates regarding the Managing Committee’s business. Interested nonprofits and neighborhood groups can submit their applications online, or can mail in their applications to City Hall.
When addressing the Wynn Casino in Everett, my goal has always been to ensure the neighborhood of Charlestown is being treated fairly. I urge residents and nonprofits alike to become engaged in the process, not only to help us protect and preserve what makes Charlestown a special neighborhood to live and work in, but to help us shape the future of the neighborhood together.
For more information on the Charlestown Community Impact Fund, as well as grant applications, please visit: boston.gov/charlestown-fund.