Boston, Wynn Come to Terms on Surrounding Community Agreement

In the end, it was Mayor Martin Walsh and Wynn CEO Steve Wynn who got down to the nitty gritty – negotiating directly with one another all week on a Surrounding Community Agreement for Boston that has some accommodations for Charlestown, including mitigation money for traffic and the prospect of removing the Boston Water & Sewer Commission (BWSC) building on Alford Street.

The announcement came just before 8 p.m. on Wednesday night after reports had been fluttering around since Monday morning that an agreement was in the works between the two one-time enemies.

The overall agreement totals to $368 million in benefits to Boston, with $68 million in mitigation funds, $20 million annually for local businesses over 15 years and the potential to create a new open space park on the waterfront where the BWSC Materials Handling Facility.

“This agreement represents the largest community benefit to date offered by Wynn Resorts or the Massachusetts Gaming Commission to the City of Boston,” read the release. “The Surrounding Community Agreement was negotiated directly between Mayor Walsh and Wynn Resorts Chairman and CEO Steve Wynn.”

For Charlestown, the greatest feature will include significant commitments for traffic in Sullivan Square and in the Town. Wynn has agreed to spend $25 million over 10 years for Sullivan Square infrastructure improvements. Meanwhile, they’ve also committed to $11 million in traffic mitigation for Charlestown in general.

Another $250,000 is to go towards a Regional Working Group looking at a long-term fix for Sullivan Square.

Most of those amenities are not new and Wynn had already agreed to them as a condition to its Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) license 18 months ago. At that time, Wynn agreed to contribute $25 million to a long-term fix in Sullivan Square, with more money coming if traffic counts exceeded projections. Another $10 million had been committed to the MGC for short-term fixes in Sullivan Square. 

So, most of the Sullivan Square commitments had already been made. 

It was not immediately certain what the $11 million for Charlestown traffic would entail – whether it was part of the $10 million short-term fix pot of money or some new pot of money.

The one absolutely new feature for the Town was the removal of the BWSC Materials Handling facility with the possibility of making it an open space park as well – something that would help the Wynn project just as much as it would be an amenity for the Town.

It was uncertain how the new agreement would gel with the MGC stipulations on the Wynn license, as there were additional requirements in the MGC portion not immediately highlighted in the Boston agreement. Most importantly in Charlestown is a one-time, $1 million check that has been sitting for one year in an escrow account at the MGC and meant for non-profits and community groups in Charlestown. The City had refused to cash the check in January 2015 when Wynn delivered it, and it was alluded to by sources earlier in the week that the check would be cleared for use in Charlestown if the agreement went through.

In regards to the City’s lawsuits, it was said that a condition of the agreement is that all lawsuits will be dropped by Boston. It appeared that the agreement included $1 million in “professional expenses,” likely to be enough to cover the legal bills that have piled up fighting unsuccessful lawsuits against Wynn.

The specific highlights of the agreement include:

  • $31 million over 15 years for community impact; 
  • $25 million over 10 years for Sullivan Square infrastructure improvements;
  • $11 million for traffic mitigation in Charlestown;
  • $250,000 for a Regional Working Group on a long-term fix for Sullivan Square;
  • Good faith effort to purchase $20 million annually over 15 years from Boston businesses; and,
  • $1 million for reimbursement of professional expenses.
  • The agreement states further commitments by Wynn Resorts for traffic improvements, including Transportation Demand Management measures, a transportation monitoring program and additional mitigation measures if operational deficiencies are revealed.
  • In addition, Wynn Resorts has agreed to work with the City of Boston to explore moving the Boston Water and Sewer Commission’s Materials Handling Facility with the goal of creating public open space along the waterfront in Charlestown.

“Our efforts over the past two years have been to protect the people of Boston and ensure the neighborhood of Charlestown is treated fairly,” Mayor Walsh said. “Residents have been trying for years for a solution for traffic congestion in Sullivan Square and Rutherford Avenue, and we must work together to improve local transportation infrastructure. I offered to keep an open line of communication throughout this process and I thank Steve Wynn for coming back to the table to listen to Boston’s needs.”

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