By Seth Daniel
For so long, Wynn Boston Harbor and the City of Boston were at odds with one another, and Charlestown was somewhere in the middle.
The tension for the Town was apparent as concerns mounted and residents came down on either side of the casino issue.
On Monday night, in a grand celebration of the grant money provided by Wynn in the Charlestown Community Impact Fund, hundreds turned out to celebrate some $300,000 in opening round grants for the Town’s non-profits.
Concerns over the casino certainly haven’t totally disappeared, but Monday’s celebration certainly put the harried past between Boston and Wynn in the rearview mirror.
Nowhere was that more apparent than in the words of Mayor Martin Walsh, who organized the event on Monday and made it into a celebration.
“This is an exciting night for a lot of different reasons,” he said. “We’ve had a long road to get to this point, but we have a development next door and we celebrate these grants given as mitigation. When you have a chance to give back to the community…give back to the non-profits in Charlestown, it’s incredible.”
Walsh praised the work of Corporate Counsel Gene O’Flaherty and the work of the Fund’s Committee – noting that more than 50 organizations got $300,000 in total grants.
“This truly is a special place and this is a special opportunity,” he said. “We want to make sure we preserve quality of life in Charlestown. That’s what these funds are about – supporting the people.”
He also spoke briefly about the Rutherford Avenue/Sullivan Square corridor planning effort, and mentioned that it was Wynn that sparked the productive effort.
“It wasn’t North Point or Assembly Row that got it going,” he said. “It was this very project that got it going.”
Wynn Boston Harbor President Bob DeSalvio said the company – though it has no say in the Fund, the Committee or the awards – couldn’t be happier at how it has turned out.
“We wanted to make sure as a new company locating here that we gave back,” he said. “I’m really happy at the way they did this and the many people who were able to benefit from this because they really spread the money out to everyone.”
State Rep. Dan Ryan said the money doesn’t solve every problem, but it helps to take pressure off the Town’s organizations.
“Charlestown is the only community that has money to spend here and spend on our own non-profits,” he said. “That’s not to say traffic is going away…but when you’re in traffic and trying to take the kids to swim class or Little League, know there’s a couple thousand dollars you don’t also have to raise for those organizations to get what they need.”