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Wynn team meets with Medford officials, residents on casino proposal

Posted by Kathy McCabe  July 8, 2013 02:48 PM

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An executive with Wynn Resorts of Las Vegas today pledged to work with local officials in Medford and other surrounding communities, as tthe company pushes forward with a plan to build a $1.2 billion casino on the Mystic River in Everett.

"We're accessible," Kim Sinatra, Wynn's senior vice president and general counsel, told a packed meeting of Medford officials and residents held Monday morning at a local hotel. "We want to make sure that everybody understands what we are trying to do. We want to be good neighbors. We view this as a long-term opportunity."

Wynn's project would include a 15-story hotel tower, with 551 rooms, a 24-hour casino, a spa, conference center and restaurants and retail shops.

The firm, led by casino mogul Steve Wynn, is vying against two other casino developers for the one license available to open a resort casino in Greater Boston. The Massachusetts Gaming Commission is expected to award the license in 2014.

The state’s gambling law requires a developer to negotiate a host community agreement, to address the impact the development would have on traffic, public health and safety and other issues.

On June 22, Everett voted overwhelmingly to allow a casino to be located on a former Monsanto chemical plant off Route 16. The local referendum is a key requirement for a developer's application to advance before the state commission.

The law also requires a developer to negotiate with surrounding communities that would be impacted by the massive development.

Wynn now is in the process of reaching out to some communities, and on Monday met with the mayors of Malden and Somerville to discuss their plans.

“We felt that since we’re past our (referendum) vote, it’s a good time to share out plans with other interested communities,” Sinatra said.

In Medford, where officials have publicly objected to the siting of a casino in Everett, Mayor Michael J. McGlynn invited the public to attend the meeting.

“There is so much interest in this project, I felt it was important, so that people get an idea of what we will be dealing with,” McGlynn explained.

The casino is proposed for a 32.4 acre site that is less than one mile from Medford’s Wellington Circle, a high-traffic area where routes 16 and 28 intersect.

"Traffic on Route 16 certainly is the biggest issue of all," McGlynn told Wynn officials "It's the route most of us take to go in and out of our community on a daily basis."

The Wynn firm faces competition from two other big-name casinos for the Greater Boston license.

Caesar's Palace and Suffolk Downs have teamed up to propose a $1 billion resort casino, at the horse race track on the Revere/East Boston line. Foxwoods Resorts of Connecticut has proposed a project for vacant industrial land off Interstate 495 in Milford
"I'm not a betting man anymore," Everett Mayor Carlo DeMaria Jr. told Medford officials and residents. "But I'm betting the application is going to advance. "

The Medford City Council voted multiple times to oppose the project, and used Monday's meeting to adress their concerns directly to Wynn representatives.

“My concern is the economic impact this would have on the community,” said Councilor Richard Caraviello.

Sinatra said Wynn has hired a RKG Associates of New Hampshire to conduct an economic impact on surrounding communities. “We’ll share that with you when we get it,” she said.

She noted that other studies have shown a resort casino can generate new business opportunities for communities. “When (visitors) are in the neighborhood, they get gas, they get lunch. They eat and shop, not just in the building where they are” staying,'' she said.

Councilor Robert Penta, a vocal critic of the project, pressed McGlynn to make sure Medford meets all the state deadlines for surrounding communities.

“We have to make sure we are designated, so that we are entitled to mitigation,” Penta said.

If a developer does not designate a city or town as a surrounding community, a municipality may apply to the gambling commission to be considered for designation, the law states.

McGlynn said he expects to start negotiating with Wynn officials in the next few weeks. “We have to make sure we protect our quality of life . . . If, in fact, (a casino) ends up in Everett,” he said.

Some Medford residents urged their mayor to make traffic control a priority.

“The traffic at Wellington Circle is my main concern,” said Michael Luongo, 74, who said he has lived in that area all of his life. “I curse everytime I go through there.”

“I’m concerned about the value of my house,” said Leah Leach, 32, who said she bought a two-family home off Route 16 two years ago. “But I am concerned how all this traffic will impact us . . . We sit in traffic as is now.”

Kathy McCabe can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @GlobeKMcCabe.

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