LAS VEGAS (March 8, 2016)—Leaders of three highly respected environmental groups backed the approval of Wynn Resort’s Chapter 91 license by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) after Wynn announced that ongoing work to clean the highly contaminated 33-acre waterfront site must cease.
Wynn ‘s $30 million remediation of the former chemical plant site started in October of 2015 and was moving forward on schedule before it was determined that infrastructure work and dredging needed for Wynn Everett’s public harborwalk and living shoreline constitute construction activities and could not proceed due to Somerville’s appeal. Several alternative methods to continue cleanup were investigated by Wynn, but none proved to be viable based on work limitations that are a result of Somerville’s legal action.
“If there was a legal way to continue with our site remediation, we would have done it,” said Robert DeSalvio, president of Wynn Everett. “No one wants this site cleaned up faster than we do.”
Wynn had hoped to continue with the harborwalk construction and begin infrastructure work and waterfront dredging needed to create boat docks, a living shoreline and a magnificently landscaped six- acre park that would be open to the public. The waterfront park would tie into the existing harborwalk system and include an event lawn, pedestrian and bicycle paths, viewing decks, picnic areas and more.
“The resort casino proposed by Wynn Everett has the potential to transform the former Monsanto Chemical property from a forlorn and forgotten hazardous waste site to more productive use and will bring a variety of public benefits to residents of densely developed Mystic River Communities,” said EkOngKar Singh Khalsa, Executive Director of the Mystic River Watershed Association.
Khalsa was joined at the Wynn Everett site by Julie Wormser, Executive Director of the Boston Harbor Association and George Bachrach, President of the Environmental League of Massachusetts, “From the beginning, Wynn Everett’s developers acknowledged Chapter 91 requirements and proposed a number of thoughtful public amenities that unquestionably meet the obligation of enhancing public access and enjoyment of the harbor,” said Wormser. “Chapter 91 does not ban waterfront development, but rather requires that such projects protect and enhance public use of and access to the water. The Wynn Everett project clearly meets this standard.”
The president of the oldest environmental advocacy group in the Commonwealth asked for Somerville Mayor Joseph Curtatone to drop his appeal of Wynn’s Chapter 91 license.
“We support the cleanup of contaminated industrial sites. We support the reclamation of polluted rivers. We support sustainable economic development. We support subsidies that support mass transit. That’s what this Wynn project is about,” said Bachrach. “This is essentially no different than what we have across the river (at Assembly Row), only there are fewer cars than what we have across the river at Assembly Row. The environment is not the issue to be challenging this site on. Nothing but good environmentalism will come from this development. So I would urge Mayor Curtatone, even in the best interest of his city, to consider withdrawing the appeal to the Chapter 91 license.”
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. In addition to building a public waterfront park, Wynn is designing a waterfront transportation system that will link visitors and employees to points across Boston Harbor and is funding a study to create a public walkway across the Mystic River to the adjacent and newly built Assembly MBTA station.
“Somerville’s appeal is delaying a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to correct more than a century of pollution and environmental neglect,” said DeSalvio. “Wynn is spending $30 million to recapture a waterfront that has been unusable for 100-plus years and create a spectacular shoreline park for all to enjoy, without one cent of public funds being used.”