The East Boston ‘no’ vote on the Suffolk Downs casino project on Tuesday – along with a similar ‘no’ vote on a gaming project in Palmer – has resonated in a big way with City Manager Jay Ash.
Ash has been a staunch gaming advocate and has testified several times before the state legislature about the need for expanded gaming. However, on Wednesday, his thoughts were along the lines of reassessing the state’s desire for casino gaming.
Following Tuesday night’s shocking vote, he said he is going to re-examine his position on gaming.
“It’s clear the people of East Boston and other communities around the state have concerns about having gaming in their backyards,” he said. “I am going to re-examine what my position is. I take very seriously what voters have to say and it’s time for me and others to take heed of what voters are saying and examine whether we should be considering gaming in general.
“I think the East Boston results were greatly influenced by what happened with Caesars, so I’m not jumping off the gaming bandwagon yet at this point, but it’s giving me cause to take a step back and look and see what people are saying and what their concerns are and how I should go forward,” he continued.
Ash isn’t alone in that mindset, however, as politicians in East Boston have moved in the last day to embrace the anti-casino crowd and have said they respect their voice and hear their concerns.
As far as Suffolk Downs goes, Ash said not much is lost on his end pertaining to negotiations for a Surrounding Community Agreement (SCA).
“We were not close on an SCA with Suffolk Downs,” he said. “We were far apart on certain pieces I thought were important to Chelsea.”
Those issues included mitigation for public safety and infrastructure.
Meanwhile, the project by Wynn Resorts in Everett does continue on and Chelsea is also a surrounding community for that project as well.
Ash said he is in early negotiations with Wynn and will continue with those negotiations. They are planning to meet later this month on traffic concerns.