Wynn Resorts Wraps Up $68 Million Cleanup for Massachusetts Casino

BOSTON (CN) – A new casino headed to the Mystic River area took shape Thursday as Wynn Resorts touted its completion of a $68 million pollution cleanup.

Construction of the $2.5 billion Encore Boston Harbor in Everett, Massachusetts, has been a long process that dates back to passage of a 2010 ballot measure that legalized casinos in the state.

Wynn Resorts became the state’s preferred developer for a casino near Boston, but the company opted to take its name off the resort’s marquee after CEO Steve Wynn stepped down from the company amid allegations of sexual misconduct.

The 33 acres on which the casino will be built meanwhile had been the site of industrial activity dating back to the 1800s.

Though Wynn had initially put the cost of remediation at about $30 million, a cleanup plan from developers noted that they also had to remove lead and arsenic in the soil along the Mystic River, while also treating the decreased pH levels of the soil throughout the site.

The work clocked in at about $68 million, and Wynn says it also plans to build a 6-acre harbor walk and park at a cost of another $14 million. Encore Boston Harbor is slated to open in summer 2019.

“You can’t put a price tag on turning back the clock and unlocking a spectacular waterfront park that will bring beauty and enjoyment for generations to come,” Encore Boston Harbor president Robert DeSalvio said in a statement. “At every point of our constantly evolving cleanup process, when a decision needed to be made, we went with the option that delivered the best quality and most beautiful outcome.”

The Environmental League of Massachusetts applauded the announcement.

“We feel like this is actually a pretty great win for the environment,” league president Elizabeth Henry in a telephone interview. “This was one of the most contaminated sites in Massachusetts. It had been, essentially, a stinking pile of mud for three decades.”

Since Wynn Resorts announced its plans to build the Everett casino in 2015, neighboring communities have opposed the proposal. Both Boston and nearby Somerville filed lawsuits in state court against the project.

Ironically, the lawsuits claimed that the new casino would create an environmental burden by increasing motor traffic. Boston and Somerville eventually withdrew their lawsuits.

“Say what you will about casinos but it’s a real asset to the town of Everett that they now no longer have this environmental risk right there,” Henry said. “Marine life and human life are returning to the sight after so many years. We think that that’s worth celebrating.”

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