Good jobs in Everett’s City Line and Village neighborhoods used to mean putting up with burning eyes and a higher possibility of developing leukemia.
It was just what people put up with to get a paycheck.
It was how they made ends meet.
Last Thursday, the first step towards getting good jobs in Everett without having to deal with the threat of toxic chemicals kicked off as Wynn Everett marked the start of pre-construction and the impending environmental clean up of the old chemical company headquarters.
“I’ve been here all my life – 79 years,” said Marie Tozzi. “I grew up with the Monsanto. We woke up to sulfur blowing and sulfur smells. At that time, we didn’t realize what sulfur meant. I was only 10 or 12 and going to school. To us, it meant jobs for people at that time. You never thought of it being a contaminant to our homes. Even when we got older, we didn’t think of it. It wasn’t clear until Wynn came here. All of this contamination came out then. That’s when we stopped and thought about how really it was a blight and all the things we went through.”
She said Wynn has given her neighborhood a chance to be something that is more than an industrial nightmare.
“We are looking so forward to the hotel and the restaurants and the clean up that they’re going to do,” she said. “It’s going to brighten up the City of Everett. We never got the chance to have something like that here. Now we will.”
Charles DiPerri took the time on Thursday to also remember his childhood growing up in the Village. He recalled his mother’s voice calling them in during bad pollution days.
“She would call us in with the broken English, saying, ‘Poison’s coming, poison’s coming,’” he recalled. “Our eyes would burn from the sulfur as we played. We would swim in the river and you could see the pollution. There was a lot of leukemia in the neighborhood. My sister was one of them; she passed away at 45 years old. I worked as a maître’d at the Brookline Country Club all my working life. I was always embarrassed to say I was from Everett. When you said ‘Everett,’ you got the look. I hated the look. Finally, something is going to be done in Everett that will make this place really something.”
As large trucks rolled into the site on Thursday, the clean up and organizing of the site began to take place. Large backhoes and trucks from Cashman Construction engaged in the pre-construction work. It was the first tangible and visible work to take place on the site.
Wynn Everett President Bob DeSalvio said it was just the beginning of work that will lead to thousands of construction jobs and permanent jobs. He said the pre-construction work will take place for about 30 days and then the remediation of the most contaminated portions of the site will commence.
That major clean up will take about four months, DeSalvio said, and then the real construction will kick off next spring.
While the Wynn company was never around for those dark days of chemical and sulfur pollution, DeSalvio said it means a lot to them to take the site and return it to the people.
“It does mean a lot for the company because it’s so much more difficult to take an urban site with heavy pollution and make it into this kind of development,” he said. “It means a lot for us to be able to take the waterfront and return it to Everett after 100 years. It means a lot to the company and to the community. We’ve heard this from day one. The neighbors and the City have told us that if we were able to come one and bring the resources to clean this up and return it to productive use, that would be important not only to themselves, but also to their children and grandchildren who could forever be able to use the waterfront again. That’s a tremendous thing.”
Mayor Carlo DeMaria said it was reassuring to see the pre-construction begin after such a long and arduous process.
“For the last three years my administration has been committed to the extensive planning and community outreach necessary to make Wynn Everett a reality,” said Mayor Carlo DeMaria. “From the beginning, we knew that we had the best site, the best team, and most importantly, the best developer in Steve Wynn and Wynn Resorts. After a long, arduous, process, witnessing the pre-groundbreaking for Wynn Everett was a reassuring sign that our vision is finally coming to fruition. The future is brighter than ever for the City of Everett, and we will continue on in our hard work, dedication, and commitment to our community.”
Council Candidate Michael McLaughlin said he was glad to see work begin, after having presided over the area when he was previously an elected official.
“It was a true pleasure to see pre-construction work started on the site,” he said. “It is a dream come true knowing that today started a process that will not only change this site, but all of Everett. Having been one of less than a handful of elected officials from day one involved in this hard fought process, I am overcome for what will become a $1.7 billion resort development.”
DiPerri said it signals a new beginning for Everett, especially for Lower Broadway and the Village.
“This really means the beginning of a new era for Everett,” he said. “People have been holding this up. It’s been held up for a year. The contamination is probably still killing people. Why would anyone want to let that linger on and on?”