The owners of the Gateway Mall, DDR Corp., have responded to the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) saying they will cooperate fully on the bike path extension and other amenities.
The letter said DDR wanted to resolve the long-standing issues and did not want to take any matters to court, including the bike path construction – which will stretch from the railroad property to the Encore Boston Harbor property behind the mall.
“DDR is committed to resolving this matter and thinks that this matter can and should be resolved without any legal action taken by the DEP or its affiliates,” read the letter, which was signed by Senior Vice President Joseph Lopez. “DDR has acted quickly to respond…, and has taken steps to comply with all applicable requirements. The information provided above demonstrates DDR’s cooperation and shows that any legal action by the DEP is not necessary to resolve this matter.”
The situation between DDR and the state boiled over recently when the DEP issued a letter of Non-Compliance with the Mall’s Chapter 91 waterways license – a serious matter indicating that the license could have been in jeopardy. The Mall ownership has been uncooperative with the City and with Encore Boston Harbor as they have tried to begin constructing a critical connector between the Village and the waterfront for the bike path that has long been in the works. When the Mall was constructed, part of their Chapter 91 commitments were to construct the bike path after the City had designed it. The design came last year, but the Mall has not cooperated in allowing the construction to begin. Now, with the letter this week, that appears to have changed.
“We are actively working with the City of Everett and the Wynn Casino to complete the remaining bike path on and around our property,” read the letter. “We expect to have all the necessary agreements in the near term.”
City officials applauded the change in tune, saying they were glad the state and the Conservation Law Foundation – which did a lot of leg work on the issue – stepped in to help.
“I would like to applaud and thank the state of Massachusetts for stepping in and ensuring that the developers of the Gateway Mall facility are held to the commitments that they made to the City of Everett,” said Councilor Michael McLaughlin, who represents the area. “I have seen how important the Northern Strand Bike Path has quickly become to a healthy and active quality of life for the residents in the city of Everett. I fully support expanding this trail and look forward to the next phase that now will be built through the Gateway Mall facility and connecting through the Encore Boston Harbor. I believe if each party does their fair share we can truly build an active biking and walking community in the city of Everett to eliminate the number of vehicles that we see every day on our streets.”
The letter from DDR also clarified other outstanding issues, such as their lack of a final landscaping plan and the failure to build a lookout platform.
“We are in the process of evaluating our records in accordance with our original development of the park areas,” read the letter. “This park was planned, permitted and constructed in accordance with the appropriate governmental agency approvals. In the event his structure (platform) was missed as part of those reviews and approvals, we will begin working on the process to meet the necessary requirements.”