The City of Somerville successfully resolved a number of our community’s core concerns regarding the Wynn casino project through our recent appeal of the casino’s Ch. 91 license. For this reason, we will not pursue further appeal of the license via the courts. I want to be clear, our appeal was never about stopping the casino but rather about our civic duty to protect the health, safety, and quality of life of our residents. While we did not get everything we asked for, the appeal did yield significant and meaningful results for our residents, so we feel the process worked.
Most important, the operation of a ferry, which was not previously a condition of the license, is now required for the full 50 years that the license covers. By the Wynn organization’s estimates, the ferry should reduce casino road traffic by an estimated 6 percent, and in one of the most congested areas of the country, every bit counts. Every trip shifted off the road and onto that ferry will reduce air pollution in our neighborhoods and traffic delays for all.
We are also pleased that our appeal increased the amount of public open space and decreased the unusually long proposed term of the license from 85 to 50 years. This means current residents will have greater community benefits now, and the next generation will have an opportunity to reassess benefits within a more reasonable time period.
With some of our key concerns now reasonably addressed, we do not see the need to further pursue in court the issues raised by our other legal actions, which will be withdrawn. Our work, however, is not done. Together with Wynn, the state, and other regional partners, we will continue to seek progress on traffic mitigation and mobility concerns and opportunities as they relate to the casino. To that end, I would like to announce that the City of Somerville and Wynn MA, LLC, have entered into an agreement that commits both parties to jointly working to address these needs.
We look forward to collaborating with Wynn MA specifically around the five areas noted in the agreement: Regional Planning, Multi-Modal Mobility and Transportation Funding, Bus Transit Improvements and Bus Rapid Transit, Air Quality and Public Health, and Environmental Sustainability. This is not a financial settlement, but rather a commitment to be good neighbors and to work together to solve the issues that impact both the people and the economy of our region.
Greater Boston faces significant congestion and transportation challenges and also deserves the benefits of a thriving and growing local economy. The successful resolution of our appeal and the commitment of both the City of Somerville and Wynn MA to continue to tackle our shared needs are both a step in the right direction.