The Conservation Law Foundation (CLF) and its attorneys have issued a strongly-worded letter to the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) castigating the owners of the Gateway Mall for shirking their state licensing responsibilities.
The letter, from CLF Environmental Planning Director Deanna Moran and Staff Attorney Heather Miller, criticizes the owners of the property, DDR, for allegedly not complying with the terms of their Chapter 91 Waterways license that was granted more than 15 years ago – in particular not building the bike path extension to the Encore Boston Casino and allegedly not being cooperative with Wynn officials trying to work on that project.
“MassDEP should hold DDR responsible for failing to comply with the conditions of license by issuing an enforcement action,” read the letter.
“Notably, the public should have had access to and use of the required bike path and viewing platform on or before May 31, 2002, yet for nearly 16 years, the public has been denied these amenities,” continued the letter. “Similarly, the public has never received the full benefits of Gateway Park due to the lack of any welcoming signage, handicapped accessibility, lighting, and other required features that are essential to park’s functionality and use. It is well within DEP’s authority to require compensatory mitigation for DDR’s blatant disregard for these license conditions.”
DDR was not immediately available to comment on the letter, but the situation has been going back and forth for quite some time as the Encore Boston Harbor crews have tried to work with DDR to get the bike path extended from its end on the other side to Rt. 16 to the casino HarborWalk.
The City and CLF have said that DDR is responsible for building the bike path per the license agreement many years ago. However, that came under dispute due to the fact that the original paperwork at the state was lost in a fire. It has been re-established, some believe, that the requirement is there for DDR to complete.
During that time, Wynn officials have been trying to work to get the project moving. However, CLF said Gateway owners have not been cooperative and are worried about disturbing capped contamination on their property.
“Of particular concern is DDR’s failure to construct and maintain a bike path connection,” read the letter. “According to Wynn, it has been in discussion with DDR about gaining an easement to build this connection for more than three years, but the parties have not come to a resolution.”
Both companies have regulatory obligations to build the path, but CLF said DDR has objected to allowing Wynn to gain access to the site for various reasons.
“As a result, DDR is not only neglecting its own duty to construct the bike path, but preventing others from doing so as well,” read the letter. “The bike path is a critical connection between Gateway Park and the waterfront park on Wynn’s property, which is currently under construction.”
The situation with the bike path spurred CLF to visit the entire site and do an inspection for compliance with the nearly 20-year-old license agreement. After a visit on April 3 this year, CLF contends they found 12 violations of the original Chapter 91 license conditions.
Those alleged violations included not having a lookout platform, no interpretive signage, no signage about the Gateway Park, no lighting in the Gateway Park, no clearing of the vegetation at the water’s edge, and it lists significant handicap accessibility barriers in the park.
CLF said the state should hold DDR accountable for deriving all of the benefits and providing none of the public amenities that were supposed to be provided in the original license.
“This mitigation must also take into account the economic benefit DDR derived from failing to fulfill its obligations,” read the letter. “Further, if the required bike path is constructed by Wynn, DDR must still be held accountable for the costs it would have incurred, as well as the economic benefits it received, by avoiding those costs. DDR should be instructed to work collaboratively with the City of Everett and community partners, including the Mystic River Watershed Association, to determine the appropriate alternative use of those funds on or in close proximity to the Gateway Center site.”
Major Power outage at Gateway Mall spoils the day
A major power outage that affected the Gateway Mall for an entire day last week is now being looked into at the City Council.
The outage came last week in the morning hours, and shut down the entire mall except for Costco – which has its own generator.
The rest of the mall was without power for nearly 24 hours, causing some of the restaurants and grocery stores to lose significant food inventories.
National Grid has said the outage was caused by work on Lower Broadway as part of the Encore Boston Harbor preparatory work by the utility. A crew digging in the street there severed a power line that cut power to the entire mall.
On Monday night, the Council called for National Grid to appear before them to discuss what happened and why it took so long to restore power.