By Josh Resnek
The casino is going to bring great success.
But with every success comes the other side of success.
In Everett, a traffic Armageddon will likely be the other side of success.
If the casino achieves the full measure of its economic possibilities, it is assured that traffic on major roads leading to and from the casino is going to stop, at least until officials determine how traffic problems can be ironed out or resolved.
A half dozen city councilors led by Leo McKinnon, Mike McLaughlin, Wayne Matewsky and Peter Napolitano bemoaned the city’s fate and complained about not being informed about traffic mitigation issues now being discussed at city hall on Monday.
Their collective voice and cry appeared greatly magnified for those of us who watch the council carefully.
They seemed upset and worried; more worried than upset about the traffic situation now developing as the casino is about to open.
“They have left us out of the loop,” McKinnon told the Leader Herald. “I’m disgusted,” he said at the meeting.
McKinnon has been asking for months for the Boston Harbormaster to appear to discuss the Alford Street Bridge.
His request, apparently granted by Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, has been put off repeatedly by Encore officials and other city officials. That bridge opening and closing, will effect traffic for miles around the casino on a summer day.
Chief Steven Mazzie said he is handling potential traffic issues with a wide variety of officials during a brief appearance at city hall. He said the Alford Street Bridge is an issue under control, that it might be scheduled to open only once an hour in the effort to reduce traffic back-ups.
No one challenged Chief Mazzie but his report did little to assuage their outrage.
“You take it from me, small boats and yachts will be coming in big time,” said Matewsky. “Traffic on the water and on our roads is going to be a mess,” he told the Leader Herald.
“These casino people must understand – we are the city council. Encore is in our city. We need to be included in strategies and discussions about the coming traffic problem – and it is going to be a problem,” he added.
“Why are we excluded? Who do they think they are?” he asked. McLaughlin also complained about being left out of the loop in the face of a possible traffic catastrophe in his ward.
“Why haven’t we been invited to a meeting on the traffic issue?” he asked.
“There is something missing here,” he said.
Napolitano was especially brief but eloquent about the issue.
“Are the benefits going to be outdistanced by the distractions?” he asked, referring to a traffic problem he envisions once the casino opens. “The traffic was bad just getting to the casino the other day for a look around the place,” said Matewsky.
“Took us a half hour to get there from downtown. Took us a half hour to return home – and I live in Everett!” he said.
“Officials at Encore didn’t offer me and my guests a glass of water,” he added.
The Mayor’s chief of staff Kevin O’Donnell came before the councilors in order to calm them down.
“These are all valid concerns,” he said.
“We are working diligently to remain transparent…something has been lost in the translation,” he told the council.
The councilors tried to impress upon O’Donnell that they, the councilors, are the city government – the bottom line so to speak – and that they have been left out of the process.
O’Donnell didn’t get that. He supported the party line developed by Encore, which now owns its place in the city.
At one point McKinnon winked his eye at O’Donnell and asked him: “What about the problems down there that we all know about,” he asked.
“I’m sorry. I don’t understand the question,” O’Donnell replied.
McKinnon went on to give O’Donnell and his colleagues a tutorial on Homeland Security needs around the Distrigas Terminal and the oil tanks on the shore a stone’s throw from the casino.
McKinnon implied the casino could be a target for terrorists given the casino’s proximity to the LNG facility.
“We need to be leading in the discussions going on behind our backs.” “We are being left out,” he told the Leader Herald.
“We could be heading for a problem,” he repeated.