Citing the potential impact on traffic, crime, and local business, the Medford City Council voted last week to send a letter to the Massachusetts Gaming Commission stating its opposition to a $1.2 billion resort casino proposed for vacant industrial land in Everett.
The council also voted to have Mayor Michael J. McGlynn keep it informed of the status of possible mitigation talks with representatives of Wynn Resorts, the Las Vegas-based developer that is proposing the casino on a former Monsanto chemical plant site.
“Is the mayor making deals already?” said Councilor Michael J. Marks. “We should have a unified voice against the casino, from the mayor on down.”
The proposed Wynn Everett, a 19-story glass, bronze-colored tower with a 24-hour casino, 551-room hotel, upscale shops, and restaurants along the Mystic River, faced a yes-or-no referendum vote by Everett residents Saturday.
A host community agreement negotiated by Wynn and Everett would pay that city $35 million to $40 million annually in real estate taxes, fees, and other revenues. The gambling law also requires developers to negotiate agreements to address the effects of the casino on surrounding communities.
Other nearby cities that may be in line for mitigation agreements include Boston, Chelsea, Malden, Revere, and Somerville.
Wynn spokesman Michael Weaver said Medford reached out to discuss a mitigation agreement, but talks with other communities will not begin until after the Everett referendum.
“We’re awaiting final results from several studies to determine which communities will be impacted by our project.” he said. “As soon as those are complete, we will begin discussions with the affected communities.”
Robert M. Maiocco, Medford City Council president, used a gambling metaphor to illustrate his concern that Medford will not receive as rich a pact as Everett.
“It’s come up cherries for Everett and it’s going to come up snake eyes in Medford,” he said.
McGlynn said negotiations have not started with ML Strategies, a Boston consulting company representing Wynn. He has met twice for general discussion with the company’s representatives, including once with former governor William F. Weld, he said.
“I told them that traffic was a main concern of mine,” said McGlynn, who last week stated his opposition to a casino at the Everett site. “I asked them what information they had, in terms of traffic studies, that could help us determine what our needs will be.”
A public meeting with ML Strategies also will be scheduled at a date yet to be determined, McGlynn said.
“They are in the process of putting together a meeting for everybody to come, and learn, about what their experts say,” he said.
Nancy J. Sterling, a senior vice president at ML Strategies, referred a request for comment to Weaver, the spokesman for Wynn Resorts in Las Vegas.
McGlynn said traffic is a particular concern in the Wellington MBTA station area, where routes 16 and 28 intersect. “If you’re adding 35,000 car trips per day for people going to that casino, it’s going to have a negative impact on the quality of life in the Wellington-Glenwood area,” McGlynn said.
Some local residents, speaking at a public forum held at the start of last week’s City Council meeting, urged officials to negotiate hard for Medford.
“I would hope that the City Council would make known their position and force the mayor to get some action for the city of Medford,” said resident Anthony D’Antonio. “Once it [the opportunity to negotiate] is gone, it’s gone.”
“I would encourage the council to look at this as an opportunity . . . for targeted economic growth,” said resident Paul Metarazzo, who said he is a public planner. “It’s also an opportunity to address the long-standing traffic issue” in the Wellington area.
If mitigation negotiations begin, McGlynn said, he would rely on residents’ input, along with the concerns of business owners and city councilors. Residents and business owners may e-mail comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
“I’m going to make sure we have a strong mitigation package, even if I have to go to the gaming commission myself,” he said.
Since December, the City Council has voted four times to adopt resolutions opposing a casino in Everett. It reiterated its stance last week.
“A casino that’s going to [border] our community is a huge change,” said Councilor Robert M. Penta. “It’s going to change the whole fabric . . . It’s going to change its way of life, its education system, its social system, its real estate system.”
“I am adamantly opposed to a casino,” said Councilor Breanna Lungo-Koehn. “We have enough crime in this city. . . . To bring a casino of that size, a half-mile or a mile away from the Wellington Circle area, is going to be detrimental.”
Councilor Paul A. Camuso cast the only vote last week not to send the letter to the commission opposing the casino.
“I’d like to wait and see what is proposed for mitigation,” Camuso said. “I’d like the process to play out.”
The 6-1 vote came after 10 local residents spoke at the public forum.
“Once a casino comes in, it depletes a lot of the community businesses,” said Lorraine Magarian, who said she has lived in Medford for 27 years. “They’re pretty much self-contained. Oftentimes, they have their own pharmacies, restaurants. . . . They really don’t contribute, as far as business-wise, to the community.”
Jean Spiers, 81, a Mystic Valley Parkway resident, said: “The impact on that road is going to be tremendous. They can say what they want, but this [casino] is going to affect us.”