Some $1 million per year for casino mitigation will not be enough for Chelsea, City Manager Jay Ash said this week in response to the Surrounding Community Agreement inked between Malden and Wynn Resorts last week.
“It’s less than what I’ve been negotiating for,” said Ash. “It’s good because now there is a number out there that a surrounding community has agreed to. I’ve not come close to reaching any agreements yet. I will continue to present the case for Chelsea as to why our needs are different than Malden’s needs. You have to remember that all of Chelsea is more proximate to either casino – Wynn or Suffolk Downs – than many parts of the actual host communities.
“The Malden deal is informative, but not one I’m prepared to sign at this point,” Ash continued.
The sentiment was pretty much the same among several elected officials, who were not at liberty to comment publicly due to ongoing negotiations.
“Definitely not enough for us,” said one councillor who chose to remain anonymous.
Ash has been in close negotiations with both Suffolk Downs and Wynn over the last several months, and it has been difficult as there was previously no pattern to follow – as few surrounding communities had entered the process with casino developers.
Now, Malden has done the trailblazing.
The deal for Malden includes an up-front payment from Wynn of $1 million for public safety, infrastructure and beautification if Wynn gets a license. Once the casino opens, Malden would get $1 million per year for continued public safety costs and infrastructure costs. That number will grow to $1.2 million by the sixth year of operation and will grow by a fixed 2.5 percent annually from there on out.
Additionally, Malden has secured a hiring preference for Malden residents that will be second only to Everett – the host community. There will also be a targeted “spend” by the casino with Malden businesses for up to $10 million annually.
“The voters in Everett have spoken in an unprecedented way of their support for this project, and we respect the right of any city to decide what is best for that city,” said Malden Mayor Gary Christenson. “I have said from the start of this process that it was vital for Malden to play an active role so that our concerns were heard. The Wynn executives reached out to us early and expressed their desire to be a good neighbor and help us address the issues important to Malden. Regardless of how one feels about gaming, we had an obligation to protect Malden’s interests and utilize the mechanisms available under the Massachusetts gaming laws to mitigate any resulting impacts. This Surrounding Community Agreement ensures that we are compensated so that the negative effects of the potential casino in a neighboring city are lessened.”
Oddly enough, while Malden borders Revere – a host community for Suffolk Downs – it has been shut out of the surrounding community agreement process by Suffolk, according to the City of Malden’s website.
Chelsea, however, has been deemed a surrounding community by both casino developers.
“The Suffolk Downs team has indicated to us that they do not consider Malden to be impacted by their potential casino development and as such will not be naming Malden as a surrounding community,” read a statement on Malden’s website. “Although we anticipate similar impacts to us from [Suffolk’s] development, we will have to make our case to the Gaming Commission to receive any mitigation assistance.”