With the Massachusetts Gaming Commission preparing to select a casino later this summer in either Revere or Everett, a flurry of activity took place last week behind closed doors as Wynn Resorts reached surrounding community agreements with Medford, Melrose, and Lynn, while Mohegan Sun agreed to a pact in Chelsea.
Mohegan Sun has yet to reach agreement with Winthrop, and Wynn has not signed surrounding agreements with Chelsea and Somerville.
“A Wynn resort will have a positive impact on people and neighborhoods beyond Everett, and these agreements are a way to truly demonstrate our ongoing support and partnership,” said Robert Desalvio, a spokesman for Wynn Resorts, which is lobbying for a casino in Everett.
Mitchell Etess, chief executive officer of the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority, called the Chelsea agreement an “important step” toward developing a proposed casino at Suffolk Downs in Revere.
“Chelsea has been a great neighbor to Revere and Suffolk Downs, and this agreement — along with others we have reached — illustrates Mohegan Sun Massachusetts’ commitment to work in partnership with our neighboring communities,” said Etess.
Under the state gaming law, communities that abut or surround a potential casino location have the right to negotiate mitigation agreements with the casino companies.
In Medford, Mayor Michael J. McGlynn said the Wynn agreement — which would be implemented only if Wynn receives a license to build in Everett — is fair, given that the city’s roads, especially Route 16, would be heavily traveled by those traveling to and from the proposed casino site.
“People aren’t going to sit on [Interstate] 93 in traffic. They’re going to get off, and cut through streets in Medford,” said McGlynn.
The Wynn-Medford agreement calls for Wynn to pay the city $1 million annually. Wynn also agreed to pay $1 million to address traffic intersections; up to $1.5 million for a design to improve traffic at Wellington Circle, which is at the junction of Routes 16 and 28; and to purchase “in good faith” at least $10 million in goods and services from Medford businesses.
Wynn also has pledged up to $250,000 toward the creation of a peace garden for Krystle Campbell, the Medford native who was killed by a bomb near the Boston Marathon finish line last year.
Medford’s agreement marked the second pact the city has inked with a casino applicant. In April, Mohegan Sun agreed to pay Medford a minimum of $600,000 annually if it receives a casino license.
Under that deal, Mohegan Sun also would contribute $450,000 to help pay for a traffic study at Wellington Circle.
In Chelsea, City Manager Jay Ash — who supports a casino in Revere, not Everett — said the city signed its surrounding community agreement with Mohegan Sun last Tuesday.
Ash said the city and Wynn have been unable to reach an agreement and will enter arbitration later this month.
The Chelsea-Mohegan Sun deal calls for the proposed Revere casino operator to pay Chelsea a minimum of $2.5 million annually. Mohegan Sun also would pay an estimated $2.5 million for traffic studies and improvements for Routes 16 and 1.
In addition, Mohegan Sun agreed to a one-time payment of $100,000 to the city to help establish a program to aid residents who want to apply for jobs at the casino.
Mohegan Sun agreed that at least 5 percent of its hires during the casino construction phase would be Chelsea residents; once it opens, it agreed to “use best efforts” to ensure that at least 5 percent of its permanent workforce be Chelsea residents.
“I think it respects the community and addresses any concerns that we may have about the operation and allows us to really take advantage of the positives that the casino would bring,” said Ash.
Like Chelsea, Somerville has failed to reach a community agreement with Wynn, and plans to send the matter to arbitration.
“We’ve reached an impasse and we’re very far apart,” said Somerville Joseph A. Curtatone, who said negotiations with Wynn ended last week.
Somerville has a deal in place with Mohegan Sun that will pay the city $50,000 annually, but Curtatone said he hopes it will never take effect. He said he plans to work to have the law overturned by voters.
“I am opposed to casinos and will fight to repeal the casino legislation on a statewide ballot,” said Curtatone.
Last week’s Lynn and Melrose agreements with Wynn did not include direct funding to the cities, unlike their pacts with Mohegan Sun, which would call for the proposed Revere casino to pay $350,000 annually to Lynn and $50,000 to Melrose.
Instead, Wynn would hold job and vendor fairs for the cities’ residents and businesses.
Melrose Mayor Robert Dolan, who supports casino gambling in the state, said the potential for filling casino jobs with Melrose residents would help the city.
“Every little penny helps,” said Dolan. “If we can provide full-time employment as well as part-time opportunities for people to make ends meet, it’s a major thing because we’re so close to both sites.”
Lynn Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy could not be reached for comment.
Further north, Salem also has entered into a surrounding community agreement with Mohegan Sun and would be paid $50,000 annually.
Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll has endorsed the Mohegan Sun proposal over Wynn, which has not offered the city a community agreement.
“Mohegan Sun has been much more regionally focused and we value the fact that they want their project to have a positive economic benefit for surrounding communities,” said Driscoll. “We have not seen that same commitment from Wynn.”
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