Boston seeks open space out of Wynn deal

Last week, the City of Boston reached an agreement with Steve Wynn to drop its lawsuit and let him build his casino in Everett. It’s a decent shakedown, worth about $70 million for the City and especially Charlestown, the neighborhood closest to the casino site.

One part of the agreement is more interesting than the others, however. According to the press release, “Wynn Resorts has agreed to work with the City of Boston to explore moving the Boston Water and Sewer Commission’s Materials Handling Facility with the goal of creating public open space along the waterfront in Charlestown.”

Section 8.6 of the agreement goes into a little more detail:

Following the execution of this Agreement, the Parties, in coordination with the applicable landowners and/or other municipal agencies and in accordance with applicable laws, shall take all actions necessary to re-purpose the waterfront real property adjacent to and within the vicinity of the Project Site in order to return such waterfront real property to public access prior to the Opening Date, including providing access to the waterfront in Charlestown, reducing truck traffic in the area, and providing facilities of public accommodation (such as walking and bicycle paths)

This is perplexing. Not only is much of the Charlestown waterfront already publically accessible “open space”, but no one lives close enough to sites in question to use the land! It’s an industrial area.

Putting “open space” in there (across the street from some open space!) will likely ensure that it’s never used, neglected and dangerous — or it would be dangerous if anyone could get to it. Even the junkies will have a hard time just getting there.

Alford Street

The Boston Water and Sewer Commission facility is the white building at the top of the map. The round building near the water is a pumping station.

It’s completely understandable that the City would be interested in freeing up that land. However, more open space, in such a remote area, in a neighborhood with a surfeit of parks and playgrounds, seems like a lack of imagination.

Depending on the soil quality, it’s possible that the land could be sold to a community development corporation or for-profit developer and turned into housing. Or maybe, given that it’s already an industrial area it could be sold to the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority for use as a bus maintence facility — it’s very close to their Charlestown Bus Yard.

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