The ice seems to slowly thawing between the City of Revere and the Wynn Everett casino project, with Mayor-elect Brian Arrigo saying this week that he would like to open the lines of communication and Wynn Everett officials saying the same.
“I know I can’t do anything official until Jan. 4, but I’m certainly looking forward to opening the lines of communication to Wynn and seeing what we are able to do in terms of mitigation from the project that is going to be opening up in Everett,” said Arrigo this week as he began to put together his transition plans. “The biggest question is what will happen to the City’s lawsuit. There’s nothing that can be done yet. I don’t know what our options are yet…Having a conversation with Wynn is going to be important and having an open line of communication going forward.”
Wynn officials, upon hearing the newfound openness from the mayor-elect, said this week that they are also open to talking things over.
“We look forward to establishing a positive working relationship with the new mayor and the City of Revere,” said Robert DeSalvio, president of Wynn Everett.
Revere is the only city or town sharing a border with Everett that does not have any form of mitigation package – something that has its roots in the Host Community Agreement signed with Mohegan Sun and, prior to them, Caesar’s Entertainment. That agreement had a stipulation that called for Revere and Boston not to negotiate with any other applicants – which Mayor Dan Rizzo said was added in exchange for more mitigation monies.
However, in the end, it prevented Revere from negotiating with Wynn Everett, leaving them with no Surrounding Community Agreement when Wynn prevailed in the hard-fought licensing battle of 2014. During the licensing process, despite that stipulation, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) negotiated an agreement with Wynn for Boston mitigation. There were no such deals made for Revere, though.
The icy relationship also extended to personal animosity between the Revere administration, Suffolk Downs and Wynn Everett.
There have been no discussions about opening up the lines of communication with Wynn since the awarding of the license, and Revere filed a lawsuit with other parties in late 2014.
Other city officials, including two prominent councillors, said it was also time to work with Wynn.
Councillor Jessica Giannino, believed to have the votes to become the next council president, said Wynn wasn’t the preferred alternative, but the time is now to start talking.
“I am happy to see that Brian Arrigo is being proactive and examining our options,” she said. “Although a casino at that property is ultimately something the city did not want, the best thing we can do since it may be inevitable is work as hard as we can to protect our residents and businesses. I believe that by taking this action, our mayor elect is doing just that.”
Current Council President John Powers said he also believe the time to ignore Wynn Everett in Revere is over.
“As council president, I am a supporter of Brian’s and I would suggest he contact Steve Wynn and try to see if we can get some mitigation money,” said Powers. “Also, in addition to that, I would hope he speaks to Wynn about possible building opportunities in Revere on some of the properties we have available to enhance his casino project. I think the Shaw’s site, which is five miles down the Parkway…would be ideal for a hotel to compliment people looking to visit the casino and Boston. If I were Brian, I’d speak to Steve Wynn right away. This is a guy you don’t want to just ignore.”
Arrigo said there are several avenues with Wynn that he’d like to explore, and one of those is looking to possibly create a mitigation agreement that would open up the jobs for residents, the vendor opportunities for Revere businesses and, possibly, some money for the City.
He said he has already discussed that matter with the MGC, and they have given him positive feedback.
“In my early discussions with the Gaming Commission, they look favorably on open lines of communication with Wynn and Revere and talking about the idea of a mitigation agreement with Revere,” said Arrigo. “It would be no roadblock on their part…It was encouraging to hear that from them. It’s important for me to protect residents and get a fair shot at jobs and get Revere businesses in on vendor opportunities and if there is a financial boost to the City – then great.”
There are also several pots of money available in mitigation funds controlled by the MGC and other state agencies and available through competitive grants. The money in those funds is provided by taxes paid to the state from all casino projects.
“There will be an application process for that money and we’ll be submitting an application for some mitigation money from the Gaming Commission to be part of the process when we transition,” he said.