For several years, the Town’s non-profits have been working through the initial $1 million mitigation payment from the Encore casino through a very detailed process, but 2020 will bring about the beginning of a lot more money and a new process for that money.
In September, the casino submitted a $2 million payment to the City of Boston to be used for Charlestown as mitigation. It was the first such payment to be made since the opening, and it will repeat – with interest – every year going forward. That means quite a lot when one looks at the fact that the $1 million payment helped hundreds of non-profits for several years.
In 2020, the community will likely be called to begin thinking about larger projects for the money that is rolling in. The City has already signaled it will be disbursed through the same process and same fund that the $1 million grant has been. That said, there are far different rules for the $2 million payments, meaning that some can be set aside for the Police Department or the Parks Department.
Not all of it is earmarked only for Charlestown non-profits any longer.
The Mayor’s Office said they haven’t begun to think about the use of the $2 million, as they are just now finalizing the last grants from the first $1 million payment. When that’s done, in 2020, they’ll begin to consider what this large, new revenue stream will mean for the Town.
State Rep. Dan Ryan has been very involved in the grant process so far, and he said it has worked well and in a fair way. Now, however, there will be a whole new way of spending the money. While money will be set aside for non-profits once again, the amount hasn’t been determined, and most of the new money will likely go to enhancing City services in some fashion.
“This upcoming funding is very different,” he said. “There will be resources set aside for non-profits; exactly how much hasn’t been determined. The majority of this funding, like in all other impacted communities, was negotiated by the City to increase municipal services that will help to mitigate the effects of a large resort on our door-step.”
He said this could include more work on the streets, sidewalk and other infrastructure. It could mean augmenting police, fire and EMT resources. But in any case, he said he felt the template established by the existing non-profit grant process has been invaluable for moving forward with the new, larger amounts of money.
“I’m happy to see the first round of money really create a mechanism where the non-profits and City Hall worked together to also find additional resources, such as Community Preservation Act funds, to help best address some of our programming needs comprehensively,” he said. “I believe that is the best way forward; the City and non-profits using each-others expertise to reach shared goals.”
Councilor Lydia Edwards said she would like to see that money continue to be invested in the young people of Charlestown.
“I am excited to continue to see the money go to our local non-profits,” she said. “We need to continue to invest in our youth and community.” In any case, 2020 will bring about a new round of decisions to be made to address and solve problems with a windfall of money that is expected to come in every single year moving ahead.