Mystic River’s Casino Footbridge Criticized by Residents

Mystic River Footbridge - Wynn Boston Harbor

The Mystic River footbridge would connect Wynn Boston Harbor with the City of Somerville.

Massachusetts state officials approved preliminary designs for a 780-ft footbridge which would connect Assembly Square in Somerville with the Wynn Boston Harbor, across the Mystic River in Everett. The new bridge be the largest bike and pedestrian bridge in the Greater Boston are would cost $23 million.

Officials now have to determine who is going to pay for the bridge.

Local residents from Somerville and Charletown attended a Mystic River DCR, which was held by civic leaders from Everett and Somerville. Some residents complained about the project, calling the proposal “a bridge to deliver their money to the casino.”

Leaders presented 25% of a schematic design for the bridge, which they described as unifying the most “important urban regional Paths in New England — Minuteman, White, Northern Strand and Grand Junction.”

Joining Everett with Somerville

The idea behind the bridge is to connect Everett with Somerville by foot traffic. Wynn Boston Harbor executives have promised a grand park on the Everett side of the Mystic River. The implication is the bridge would bring spillover traffic from the casino area to Assembly Square, thus helping retail sales in Somerville without flooding the area with car traffic.

Assembly Square is a neighborhood located on the west bank of the Mystic River, located only 2.5 miles from downtown Boston. The neighborhood contains Assembly Row, a 45-acre marketplace and power center which contain retail outlets, restaurants, research & development space, a hotel, a cinema, and one of the MBTA Orange Line’s mass transit hubs, Assembly Station. Assembly Square Marketplace contains retai outlets like TJMax, AC Moor, Staples, and Bed Bath & Beyond.

No doubt, a certain percentage of casino visitors would walk across the river to Assembly Square. Most of the residents who attended the Mystic River DCR meeting appeared to be skeptical that the $23 million expenditure would be worth the return on investment. Casino tourists might enjoy high end retail chains and boutique stores in integrated casino-resorts, but they do not make visits to the casino to go shopping at stores they could visit in their hometown.

“Bought with a Soccer Field?”

One Somerville resident voiced concerns that the bridge was being built to lure Somerville and Charlestown residents into the Wynn Boston Harbor casino. The speaker said, “We are being bought with a soccer field? Can the parents leave their kids there while they go gambling? If you plan on answering that question then let me sell you some canned steam.”

“That’s a bridge that doesn’t bring people together, but separates them from their money. How many bike lanes do you see at Foxwoods casino? Do you really think that’s why they are building it?”

Wynn Boston Harbor Comments

Officials urged residents to provide comments and suggestions to the Department of Conservation and Recreation via the department’s Office of Public Outreach website. Comments need to be submitted by close of business on March 7, 2018.

Wynn Roston Harbor Bridge

The next few months could be a trying time for the executives and officials vested in the Wynn Boston Harbor. Wynn Resorts is undergoing a major scandal, which required its 76-year old founder and CEO to resign. Steve Wynn, who served as the RNC’s Finance Chairman from early 2017 until recently, stepped down from his position with Wynn Resorts and the Republican National Committee after reports surfaced in which dozens of women made sexual misconduct allegations against him.

Steve Wynn had been a flamboyant Las Vegas casino developer for decades, but his fall came quickly. The Wall Street Journal published an article in January 2018 in which WSJ reporters spoke with 150 current and former Wynn Resorts employees. Many women told stories of Steve Wynn’s predatory behavior towards his resort’s salon workers.

Steve Wynn’s Fall from Grace

Soon, gaming regulators in Massachusetts, Nevada, and Macau (China) launched investigations into Wynn’s conduct. The Las Vegas Review-Journal ran a story about 1998 allegations that the newspaper was pressured to bury. In the age of the “Me Too” movement, the scrutiny became too much and Steve Wynn had to resign.

Without its leader, the Wynn Boston Harbor will not have the same forceful personality who won public battles in the past. Longtime board members were promoted to the chairmanship and the CEO position, but they will take time to cement their leadership.