By Seth Daniel
A new call from many Everett residents to boycott Somerville in the wake of that city’s mayor filing an appeal of the Wynn Everett project, has met with mixed reactions in Everett this week.
Former Everett schoolteacher Robin Brickley conceived the idea in the wake of Somerville Mayor Joe Curtatone filing an appeal of a critical state environmental license for Wynn Everett. Within the frustration of that, Brickley said she and other members of Everett United decided to move forward with the idea.
“The idea behind it all was that we’re very upset about this appeal of the Chapter 91 license,” she said. “It was so contradictory that that they could develop on their side of the river, but it’s not okay for Everett to develop on its side. We’re trying to be good neighbors and we didn’t begrudge them when good development came their way with Assembly Row. We would like to experience that same progress. The Wynn Everett would bring that to out community…One idea we came up with was to boycott Assembly Row to get the message through. We want to get the message across. It’s just another tool to get the message across to let people know we aren’t happy with this.”
Everett United member Paul Dobbins has also been very outspoken on the appeal by Mayor Curtatone. He is participating in the boycott and has created a Facebook page called ‘Boycott Somerville.’
The page has about 300 followers and espouses alternatives for Everett and area residents besides Assembly Row.
For example, a South End restaurant in Boston was touted to replace the Tapas Bar in Somerville. A children’s program in Boston was advertised as an alternative to the Lego Land at Assembly Row.
Dobbins said there are Everett people involved, but also Somerville people too.
“I think, as you can see, there are many people from Somerville who don’t approve of what their arrogant, self-serving Mayor is doing, as evidenced by some of their comments on the page,” said Dobbins. “This isn’t a ‘gotcha’ page or something I came up with to hurt, in any way, the good people of Somerville, especially those who earn their living there. This is nothing more than an attempted shakedown of Steve Wynn and Wynn Resorts by a disingenuous politician, Joe Curtatone, trying to blame it on climate change and carbon footprints. We’ve fought so many battles over the last 3-plus years, battles started by people much smarter and savvier then the Mayor of Somerville.”
But not everyone is on board.
Mayor Carlo DeMaria said he has his concerns about it.
“Boycotting businesses in Somerville will no doubt hurt workers,” he said last week on his Facebook page. “I have been to Assembly Row and have met many of those employed in the shops and restaurants. Many are working two to three jobs just to earn a living wage and many are from Everett. I agree we need to hold Mayor Curtatone accountable, but we do not want to harm those who are trying to support their families. Please do not boycott the businesses in Somerville, but continue to educate Mayor Curtatone.”
Vincent Raggucci of Everett United said he, also, is not completely on board with the boycott.
“This is beyond a boycott,” he said. “The Somerville stores did nothing to hurt the City of Everett. The correct way to go at this time is what is called for by the Governor – a sit down meeting between the parties. A boycott this soon is a waste of time for them and us. Remember we are in the right, and like Boston, someone needs to tell the Somerville Mayor the true facts. The Mayor of Somerville is hurting the Commonwealth, as well as all the surrounding cities and Wynn. Mayor DeMaria…has led us to the correct path and I see no reason to currently change this.”
Councilor Michael McLaughlin, who represents the Wynn site and has been active in Everett United, said he also isn’t supporting the boycott.
“We should not be boycotting Somerville businesses,” he said. “We are supposed to be putting jobs in Everett and not hurting the people of Somerville, who don’t have anything to do with the actions of Mayor Curtatone and don’t agree with him either. I have a friend who owns a business in Assembly Row and I don’t want to hurt him. Those in the boycott are friends of mine, but I have been against the boycott since its inception.”
A spokesperson from Curtatone’s office chose not to comment on the idea of a boycott of Somerville businesses.
Brickley said the boycott is just one of many ideas that Everett United is set to unveil.
“I think the boycott is really catching on now,” she said. “It’s just an idea I came up with and it’s just one idea. There are going to be many more things coming down the line.”