By Seth Daniel
When one looks at a map of communities that have made agreements with the Wynn Casino, Revere stands alone as the one community in the area that has nothing to show for the casino project next door.
But it’s not for lack of effort recently.
Mayor Brian Arrigo and his administration explained this week that they have investigated how to get the process started in negotiating a Surrounding Community Agreement (SCA). However, due to the old agreement with Mohegan Sun, that process isn’t as easy as it sounds.
Unlike most communities, Revere’s Host Community Agreement (HCA) with Mohegan Sun contained an exclusivity clause that prevented it from negotiating agreements of any kind with any other applicants aside from Mohegan.
But the Mohegan agreement is old news, right?
Though a Suffolk Superior Court judge threw out most of the suits against the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) regarding Wynn Everett – including the suit by the City of Revere – she did allow a procedural claim made by Mohegan to continue.
So, Arrigo said, as long as that continues, the City is hamstrung unless the MGC requests them to negotiate an SCA.
“We want to open up the lines of communication between the City and Wynn,” said Arrigo. “Right now, we’re figuring out what our options are…We are, though, bound by the HCA Dan Rizzo signed with Mohegan Sun. Until we have an agreement with Mohegan that the HCA is void, we’re bound by the agreement and it means we can’t sign an SCA unless we’re compelled by the Gaming Commission.”
Wynn officials said they would like to work with Revere, and feel bad that the Mohegan agreement appears to prevent that.
“It is our goal to have positive working relationships with all of our surrounding and nearby communities, as evidenced by our recent agreement with the City of Boston,” said Michael Weaver, senior vice president of communications for Wynn. “It is indeed unfortunate that Mohegan Sun engineered an agreement, inherited by Mayor Arrigo, which prevents the City of Revere and its citizens from enjoying a positive relationship with our company, including the right to any direct benefits, with the further problem of obligating Revere to continue to support a project that the Gaming Commission rejected more than a year ago.”
The specifics of the “exclusivity clause,” which makes up about one paragraph of the agreement on page 31 of the 100-page HCA document call for the City not to pledge allegiance to the project. It is not to sign another HCA, obviously. However, the problematic portion comes when it says, “and will only enter into a Surrounding Community Agreement relating to another applicant if required by the Commission.”
The MGC, through a spokesperson, said it wasn’t sure how that would work and was looking into its role in the situation. However, the situation is new territory, and most don’t realize that Revere is still bound by the Mohegan project.
In the absence of the MGC compelling them, Arrigo said they are looking at whether the City can sign a Neighboring Community Agreement or a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU).
“Boston has signed an agreement and most of Greater Boston has signed an agreement,” said Arrigo. “Obviously, we will be last to the table, but whatever I can do to provide mitigation for the Wynn casino impacts, I want to do.”
Arrigo said if the City gets to the negotiating table, he would obviously like money for mitigation, but just as important, are jobs for Revere residents.
“What we would like to see out of any negotiation with the Wynn folks would obviously be money, but really an agreement for a certain percentage of jobs to Revere residents and a certain amount of money to be spend with Revere businesses is also important,” he said.
He added that traffic mitigation would also be a key talking point regarding Rt. 1 and Rt. 16 and Mahoney Circle.
For now, though, the administration has been meeting with its legal team on the casino issue – a team that has been carried over from the previous administration. Once the options are solidified, or the MGC compels the City to open up negotiations, Arrigo said they are ready to move on getting the final SCA in the area inked with Wynn.