Somerville is upping the ante in its efforts to have the state designate the city as a surrounding community of the casino proposed by Wynn Resorts along the Mystic River in Everett.
The Board of Aldermen Thursday unanimously approved spending $150,000 to study the casino proposal after Somerville Mayor Joseph Curtatone, a vocal casino opponent, said the city needs to hire consultants with the expertise to assess what the gambling facility could mean for Somerville.
“There are real impacts on our quality of life, real social impacts, and potential impacts to our local economy,” Curtatone said.
In an October letter to the city, Wynn Resorts said it has determined that Somerville will not suffer any adverse impacts from the proposed development other than potentially some traffic.
But Michael Glavin, Somerville’s executive director of planning and community development, said his office doesn’t believe that the information that Wynn Resorts has provided Somerville has been adequate.
Glavin said the city urgently needs the $150,000 so it can ensure that sites in Somerville, such Assembly Row, are not harmed in any way from a project of such a large scale across the river.
Alderman Bob Trane asked why the city taxpayers should foot the bill to study the impacts of the proposed casino.
State law requires casino developers to negotiate agreements with surrounding communities to offset potential negative impacts of having a casino nearby.
But Aldermen President Bill White said Wynn Resorts has not designated Somerville as a surrounding city and therefore the city will have to go to the state Gaming Commission to make its case that Somerville should be deemed a surrounding community of the proposed casino.
Glavin said his office believes there is the opportunity to pursue the commission’s intervention, and if the city is designated a surrounding community the money Somerville spends studying the impacts of the casino could be reimbursed by Wynn Resorts.
Curtatone said Somerville’s border extends halfway out into the Mystic River and the city is going to pursue its rights to be designated a surrounding community.
“You don’t need a tape measure to figure out where Somerville stands,” the mayor said.