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Curtatone: Somerville casino? 'Over my dead body'

Posted by Jarret Bencks  November 29, 2012 05:45 PM

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As Everett considers a new casino just across the Mystic River, Somerville Mayor Joseph Curtatone on Thursday flatly ruled out building a gambling palace in his city.

"Over my dead body would a casino come to Assembly Square or any part of Somerville," Curtatone said in a phone interview Thursday.

He also said if any new ramps to I-93 in Somerville were proposed as part of a potential casino development in Everett, he would oppose that, too.

"I will exercise all our rights under the law to oppose that," Curtatone said.

Assembly Square -- across the Mystic River from the Monsanto Chemical site in Everett, where casino mogul Steve Wynn is considering a possible development -- has received over $130 million in public infrastructure investment, Curtatone said, and he aims to develop it into a long term economic driver for the region. A casino isn't part of that, he said.

"You don't put them where there's already an economic base," Curtatone said of casinos. "The Boston region has a strong economic base."

Curtatone said he has received several calls from developers in the last few months about the possibility of a casino at Assembly Square, but he quickly turned them down.

Developers have apparently been reaching out to municipal leaders north of Boston. Medford Mayor Michael McGlynn said he heard from a developer within the last month who was interested in looking into building a casino in the air space above Wellington Station, which is controlled by the city.

"They said the location intrigued them," McGlynn said.

McGlynn said he told them he would not decide on a casino development in Medford on his own, and that any development would have to gain approval from residents and business owners without his support.

He has not heard back from the prospective developer, whom he declined to name.

"The discussion is dead," he said Thursday.

Curtatone criticized the process of choosing potential casino development sites as being too disorganized.

"The debate is a free-for-all," he said. "For all these purported guidelines and parameters, you really have a set of rules without any orders here."

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