Boston Mayor Sues Wynn Everett Over Anticipated Charlestown Traffic Issues

on January 7, 2015
Boston Mayor Marty Walsh Wynn Everett lawsuit

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh wants neighboring Charlestown residents to be able to vote on whether to allow the Wynn Everett casino to proceed. (Image: Ted Fitzgerald/bostonherald.com)

The Wynn Everett casino is under fire, as the city of Boston has sued in an effort to block the Massachusetts Gaming Commission’s approval of the resort.

According to Boston Mayor Martin Walsh, nearby Charlestown residents should be able to hold a binding vote on the casino, as their neighborhoods will face significant traffic and public safety problems from the resort.

“It always has been our belief that Boston is a host community to the Wynn-planned casino,” Mayor Walsh said this week. “My number one concern is making sure the people of Charlestown have an opportunity to vote on something in their backyard.”

Traffic Could be Impacted

The major concern appears to be an increase in traffic in Sullivan Square and other areas of Charlestown.

Wynn Resorts has attempted to negotiate with the city over a monetary settlement, first offering $650,000 and reportedly increased that offer to $1 million in recent days. However, Walsh and his administration seem to feel that this offer is still too low, considering the troubles that they claim Charlestown will see from the casino.

This is far from the first time that the city of Boston and Mayor Walsh have had harsh words aimed at the casino process and the state gambling commission in particular. The lawsuit, filed in Suffolk Superior Court, includes plenty of rhetoric and invectives to go along with the legal arguments the city wants to advance.

“The commission has ignored the facts, conducted an improper proceeding, and rendered a decision that is leally and factually defective,” the lawsuit states.

Boston is just the latest city to sue in an attempt to stop the Wynn Resorts project from going forward. Both Somerville and Revere, which advanced a rejected proposal to build a casino at the Suffolk Downs raceway, have also sued the commission using similar arguments.

Integrity of Land Sale Attacked

One of the chief lines of attack has to do with the land that Wynn intends to build on.

According to Boston’s lawsuit, Wynn should have been disqualified because of alleged criminal activity by the former landowners. Somerville had previously argued in its lawsuit that regulators should have either forced Wynn Resorts to find a new site, or disqualified the company altogether because a convicted felon had a financial interest in the land deal.

But even if the courts can’t be convinced that the Everett deal should be abandoned entirely, Mayor Walsh is hoping that Boston can legally be given the designation of a “host community” for the project, which would allow the city to hold a binding vote on whether or not the casino should be allowed.

“With Boston providing the sole access point to the casino site, the vast majority of patrons would be required to drive through Rutherford Avenue and Sullivan Square in Charlestown – an area that already faces severe traffic congestion,” Walsh said.

The state gaming commission, however, has consistently rejected Boston’s assertion that it should be considered a host community.

“The commission believes that we have reviewed these issues thoroughly, objectively, and fairly, and that exhaustive review helped lead to the decision to award the Wynn license with appropriate conditions,” said Elaine Driscoll, a spokesperson for the commission. “The commission continues to believe that our resolution was appropriate but also fully understands that parties who are disappointed in our decisions may want to test that believe through litigation.”