Casino Mitigation Fund Passed by Council, First Meeting This Month

By Seth Daniel

The Boston City Council voted unanimously on Wednesday, Aug. 24, to accept Mayor Martin Walsh’s proposal to create the Charlestown Casino Impact Fund and begin meetings on how to move forward with distributing $1 million currently in the account and monies expected to come in years ahead.

The matter came up Aug. 24 after a hearing was held in City Hall with the City’s Finance Department the previous day, Aug. 23.

The Fund will officially be overseen by City Councilor Sal LaMattina or a representative; State Rep. Dan Ryan or a representative; State Sen. Sal DiDomenico or a representative; the City’s Collector-Treasurer; the City’s Commissioner of Public Works; the City Commissioner of Transportation; and the City’s Chief of Civic Engagement.

“I am pleased that our agreement with Wynn will benefit the residents of Charlestown, and with the City Council’s approval, the Community Impact Trust Fund will provide much needed resources that will support programming, infrastructure and more in the neighborhood for generations to come,” said Mayor Martin Walsh.

The Mayor’s Office said it expected the first meetings of the Trust Fund to take place in the fall and they would discuss the frameworks that they will operate under and how they will distribute the money in the account.

Already there is a $1 million check in the account that came years ago due to an agreement Wynn Boston Harbor had with the Massachusetts Gaming Commission. That agreement stipulated that upon making payment for its gaming license, Wynn would give $1 million to Charlestown non-profits. That money sat idle throughout most of the tortured history of litigation pushed by the City’s Law Department over the years, prior to an agreement being put in place with the City and Wynn earlier this year.

With that money now ready to be distributed, LaMattina said there was no time like the present.

“Not everyone in Charlestown is going to be happy with the new casino,” he said before the Council vote. “Hopefully this fund will mitigate some of the impacts we will be getting because of this casino. There is $1 million of up-front money that we will be able to distribute to Charlestown non-profits. I would like our first meetings of this group to be in early September so we can start spending some of that money in the neighborhood. There are a lot of non-profits that could use it.”

State Rep. Dan Ryan is also in agreement on having meetings soon and in supporting the Trust Fund structure.

The Trust Fund had a rocky rollout earlier this year during Bunker Hill week when Mayor Walsh announced his proposal without a lot of prior input from the community. The Fund also did not have Sen. DiDomenico listed as a participant. That was fixed later and amended and after several discussions locally, most everyone has come on board with the idea and is ready to participate in the process.

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