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Somerville mayor: Casino bill 'worst decision this Commonwealth ever made'

Posted by Jarret Bencks  July 12, 2013 11:52 AM

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Somerville Mayor Joseph Curtatone reiterated his stance against a casino near Somerville, but said Thursday the community needs to prepare for the possibility that a proposal across the Mystic River in Everett becomes a reality.

"I will do everything in my power, along with you and the public, to fight a casino near this community," Curtatone told aldermen Thursday night.

Curtatone said he believed legalizing casino gambling was "the worst decision this Commonwealth has ever made."

"There are going to be a lot of sad personal stories," he said. "I think we all understand what happens."

But Curtatone said he believed the Everett proposal has a leg up on Suffolk Downs, the other site vying for the greater Boston casino license, because the Everett proposal has received local approval.

"I don't know what is going to happen," Curtatone said Thursday. "I have a deep and grave concern."

Curtatone said he intended to take a "dual track" approach to the proposed casino, on the one hand trying to fight its development, and on the other trying to ensure that environmental impacts are addressed and Somerville receives maximum mitigation should the project become a reality. 

In June, Curtatone submitted a petition to FBT Everett Realty, the company that owns the contaminated 35-acre plot along the Mystic River where Steve Wynn aims to build a casino, seeking to designate the land a Public Involvement Plan Site. Such a requirement could provide residents of neighboring communities an opportunity to voice their opinions on how the site is developed.

Thursday he announced he would begin holding regular meetings to discuss the latest developments of the casino proposal with city officials and representatives from Federal Realty Investment Trust -- the developer of Assembly Row, a large mixed-use development across the Mystic River from the proposed casino site that has received $130 million in public funds.

Curtatone has been a vocal opponent of casinos in the state, and previously said he would do everything in his power to prevent one from coming near Somerville.

Jarret Bencks can be reached at bencks.globe@gmail.com. Follow him on twitter @JarretBencks.

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