The opening of the Encore Boston Harbor casino this week not only brings about the culmination of years of planning and construction, but also it triggers the payments to Boston as part of the community mitigation agreement – known as a Surrounding Community Agreement (SCA).
Most important, the Boston SCA requires that $2 million be paid to the City upon opening.
The Mayor’s Office indicated they expect that payment to come within 90 days, so some time before Sept. 23.
Mayor Martin Walsh has said that the payments would be used only for Charlestown and for impacts to those affected by the casino. This week, he again made that pledge to likely keep all the mitigation money in the Town rather than spreading it out to the rest of the city.
“I am proud that through these mitigation funds, we will serve the residents in Charlestown, and all those impacted by the opening of the casino, preserving the places that make our city so special,” he said. “I want to thank all residents for their work, and for their continued commitment to all of Boston’s neighborhoods.”
Those payments will be slightly different than the current $1 million pot of money the Town has been whittling down for several years as part of the Charlestown Community Mitigation Fund process – money the casino paid to Charlestown non-profits as part of the casino licensing process in 2014. That money has gone a long way to providing gap funding for area organizations, as well as for new uniforms and equipment for youth sports teams.
However, the $2 million annually will be a much bigger pot of money to use and to plan for.
The new mitigation money triggered by the opening has a much more broad definition for use, as opposed to the licensing fee money that was targeted just to Charlestown non-profits. The new mitigation money can be used to pay for police for fire details to handle traffic, as well as other infrastructure costs related to the project.
According to the agreement, the mitigation money should be for:
•Improvements to facilities within the City to facilitate water transportation and to fund staffing and other public safety initiatives related to increased use of water transportation in Boston Harbor related to the project;
•Support of Charlestown’s non-profits, parks, after-school activities, senior programs, job training programs, cultural events and related activities that promote Charlestown’s heritage, quality of life, recreational and cultural activities;
•Staffing and other public safety initiatives related to increased pedestrian and vehicular traffic in the City related to project following opening;
•Any other impacts including any transportation impacts and the SSIP (Sullivan Square Infrastructure Project).