The Mystic River and a pair of rail lines are all that separate Assembly Square in Somerville from the wasteland in Everett that casino magnate Steve Wynn wants to transform into a resort casino. The two properties are so close that a decent golfer could tee off on one and hit the other. They share a common industrial heritage. Until work crews began clearing Assembly Square for construction, the land on the Somerville side of the Mystic looked just as forlorn as it does now in Everett.
Assembly Square and the old riverfront Monsanto plant in Everett are, in many ways, two sides of the same coin. Now, however, they’re on sharply divergent development paths. One builds a new economy, and the other builds an elaborate structure for siphoning cash into the hands of one wealthy corporation. Somerville is creating a new neighborhood, while Everett’s mayor is parading Steve Wynn through City Hall. Everett’s is a considerably less ambitious and less constructive endeavor, and it’s one the city doesn’t have to settle for. Somerville could have had what Everett now has (a less than certain shot at one of three state casino licenses), and turned that offer down. That alone should give Everett pause — especially because the city could easily replicate what is happening at Assembly Square.