EVERETT (CBS/AP) — Wynn Resorts put its $1.7 billion casino project for the Boston area temporarily on hold Wednesday, cancelling a planned April groundbreaking and other events in response to the latest legal challenge against the development.
Company officials said they remain committed to the project in Everett, though they imposed a hiring freeze and cancelled area job fairs.
“Unfortunately, the appeal by Somerville’s mayor leaves us no choice but to shut down our permanent building construction down,” Robert DeSalvio, a senior vice president overseeing the development, said at the casino’s planned site. “We can’t put a shovel in the ground to build until a final conclusion is reached.”
Somerville Mayor Joseph Curtatone responded that the problem is the company’s “unwillingness” to address concerns about how the projected 18,000 vehicle trips the casino is expected to generate daily will impact traffic and the environment.
“As soon as Wynn is ready to step up and develop a responsible traffic plan, then the project has the possibility of moving forward,” he said.
An anti-casino Democrat, Curtatone has filed five legal challenges against the development. His latest is an administrative appeal of the state’s decision to award the development a key environmental permit.
“Unless you are helicoptering in from Las Vegas, you are driving there,” Mayor Curtatone said.
Wynn, in a statement, countered that Curtatone has backed three major redevelopment projects within two miles of the planned casino that would generate more than 85,994 new vehicle trips per day, including his city’s popular Assembly Row outlet shopping, residential and dining complex.
DeSalvio stressed the Las Vegas-based casino giant remains committed to the project, which has the lone gambling license for the lucrative Boston market.
“Wynn has never been more resolved or motivated to build our resort in Everett,” he said, standing with local labor, business and political leaders.
Wynn officials said the hiring freeze will likely mean construction worker layoffs, but no layoffs are expected on the operational side. The project is expected to generate 4,000 temporary construction jobs and another 4,000 when it opens.
Wynn is planning a hotel, casino and entertainment complex on roughly 33 acres on the waterfront overlooking Boston. It had hoped to open the development in late 2018.
Everett resident, Jackie Ruplis remains undecided about the Wynn Casino. But, she and other in the city are tired of stop-and-go surrounding the project.
“It’s the other cities that should have no say at all in what this city does,” said Ruplis.
“I wish they’d make up their mind once and for all – get it going,” said Keith Mackenzie also of Everett.
Mayor Curtatone staunchly insists this is not a money shakedown and the extra traffic is a problem.
“I am perplexed as most people are as why he would file an appeal especially Wynn isn’t going to give any more money,” said Everett Mayor Carlo DeMaria.
“It is a serious health threat,” said Curtatone.
The property Wynn is developing is off Lower Broadway. Most of it is in Everett with a sliver in Boston, and includes cleaning up a hazmat site.
“They’re giving Wynn if you pardon the expression… first it was Boston, now it’s Revere, now it’s Somerville – please,” said Ruplis
WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Lana Jones reports
WBZ-TV’s Katie Brace contributed to this report.
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