By Josh Resnek
Councilor Darren Costa has jumped from the frying pan into the fire suggesting that the mayor form a Community Action Board to develop a Community Benefits Agreement as part of a new Host Agreement Costa says the city needs.
The city council last week unanimously approved a Costa motion to do just that.
“My hope is that Encore officials open up the original Host Agreement in good faith and renegotiate in totality,” Costa told his colleagues in government before the vote.
When the Host Agreement was negotiated more than five years ago, the $30 million a year income stream to the city seemed like a big deal – in fact – like the deal of the century.
During the past five years, as Encore got underway after a sputtering start followed by the disastrous closedown during the height of the COVID crisis, the $30 million a year does not look so good and does not go as far for Everett.
Inflation has eroded the value of the $30 million to closer to $25 million and raised the price for all services and goods purchased by the city to record high levels.
Costa said the city needs more money from Encore to cover the city’s rising needs. He said the expansion of Encore across the street on Lower Broadway requires additional income which the city needs and which it deserves.
“So, I feel, with the resort’s proposed expansion, the Host Agreement should be more robust and there should be a community benefit aspect to it. I’m for the expansion, and I think it’s important, but I think it’s also important that we are entrusted with getting everything that Everett deserves. An economic benefit to our residents is important.”
Costa described his vision for more Encore funds and for more outdoor space for the arts and for parks.
“I’d like to see art space or theater space – public outdoor space that doesn’t cost me anything to occupy,” said Costa. “The waterfront behind Encore is nice, but it’s not easily accessible. But as we open up the other side of Broadway, it’s a better opportunity to create something that’s more open to people – an area where you can walk or bicycle from different neighborhoods.”
About Encore’s new sports gambling effort, he had this to say.
“I believe that the [WynnBET] Sportsbook impacts the community in a different way than gaming tables and slot machines do,” said Costa. “I want to make sure we put our community first in terms of how the resort’s expansion and the new Sportsbook impact the people of Everett.”
Sports betting is expected to up Encore’s gaming take by a quantum leap.
Costa implies the city should enjoy Encore’s success and that Encore should pay more to operate here in the years to come as a matter of what is fair.