By Seth Daniel
In a shocking follow up to the environmental license appeal filed by Somerville on Feb. 12, Wynn Everett officials made a startling announcement Wednesday afternoon in saying that they would halt all construction activities, put off seven job fairs, institute a hiring freeze and cancel the April groundbreaking – but they will not leave town or abandon the $1.7 billion project under any circumstances.
The announcement took place on the construction site, which is currently being environmentally cleaned by a contractor, Wednesday afternoon with the backdrop of more than 100 trade union and service union workers standing in support of the project – not to mention Suffolk Construction CEO John Fish.
While announcing the halt in hiring and construction, Wynn reaffirmed its commitment to its destination resort in Everett and vowed to vigorously fight Somerville’s appeal.
“Wynn has never been more resolved or motivated to build our resort in Everett,” said Bob DeSalvio, president of Wynn Everett. “Unfortunately, the appeal by Somerville’s Mayor leaves us no choice but to shut down our permanent building construction down. We can’t put a shovel in the ground to build until a final conclusion is reached.”
DeSalvio said the appeal by Somerville and its mayor, Joe Curtatone, has caused the delay, laying blame for what he said would be the delay of thousands of construction jobs on the mayor to the north. The halt will include:
- Canceling seven job fairs scheduled for Somerville, Everett, Boston, Malden, Medford, Chelsea and Cambridge.
- Immediately freezing all hiring for the 4,000 union construction jobs and all operational positions that Wynn was starting to fill.
- Canceling Wynn’s planned April construction groundbreaking.
Curtatone filed the appeal of the Wynn Chapter 91 Waterways license on Feb. 12 – a process that is governed by the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). That administrative process will require hearings and information sharing and could take up to six months to one year to clear up.
Curtatone has clarified that the Chapter 91 appeal is one of five lawful appeals that Somerville has against the casino and he has said he is exercising his legal rights.
Much of his explanation for appealing the casino is about traffic generation and the health effects of having an addition 18,000 cars going through Sullivan Square to the Wynn Everett casino.
That complaint was seized upon Wednesday by Wynn Everett officials, who counterpunched with statistics they said showed that Curtatone has plans in the works that would bring up to 85,000 cars through the area in the future – adding to what they said is an Assembly Row project that already adds 40,000 cars to the area and has not been mitigated adequately.
While Somerville claims that the 18,000 vehicle trips a day generated by Wynn will negatively impact the health of Somerville residents, said DeSalvio, Mayor Curtatone fails to mention that three Somerville projects that he strongly supports (Assembly Row, future Assembly Square expansion, Union Square Redevelopment and Northpoint/Somerville portion) will generate more than 85,994 total new vehicle trips per day—nearly 475 percent more cars than Wynn Everett will generate.
All of these projects are within two miles from Wynn Everett, he said.
DeSalvio added that Wynn has spent three years and has completed 20 exhaustive environmental and traffic plans that have been thoroughly reviewed by three federal agencies, 12 state agencies, 14 municipalities and 20 local organizations. These studies, he said, demonstrate that Wynn would add the following traffic to Route 93:
- Only 0.85% (less than 1%) onto Route 93 Southbound
- Only 1.97% (less than 2%) onto Route 93 Northbound
DeSalvio also pointed out that Wynn and Somerville participated and completed a mutually agreed upon arbitration process in 2014. Wynn won the arbitration, with Somerville getting nearly all the money that it asked for—except for an unsubstantiated $1.5 million annual payment. Somerville agreed to the settlement and has accepted and cashed the first payment by Wynn, DeSalvio said.
Now, Somerville is seeking the exact same demands that were denied in 2014 by the arbitrators, he added.