Encore Boston Harbor Apologizes for Communication Error in Closing Roads

The Encore Boston Harbor team appeared before the City Council on Monday, and said they apologized for poor communication with neighboring businesses when they abruptly shut down roads on Lower Broadway in November.

“We’re not going to blame the administration here on that,” said Encore President Bob DeSalvio. “We take any responsibility for that. We could have and should have done a better job with communicating that. It was last minute and we decided to take advantage of some good weather…A quick message to the Council would have been easy and we should have don’t that…Once we got rolling on day two and three, we got out and really started communicating. The first couple of days were a struggle. I agree with that.”

The discussion came due to a situation on Lower Broadway last November when Encore Boston Harbor officials seized upon warmer weather to close down Robin and Dexter Streets to do some full-depth resurfacing. However, the group notified abutting businesses only hours before they were going to close the street for up to eight days.

That hampered deliveries and shipments to local auto body businesses and to Schnitzer Steel, among others. Some did not even know it was going to happen until the jersey barriers went up, and that was after attending a coordination meeting with Encore the previous Monday.

Councilors Fred Capone and Michael McLaughlin brought the issue to the floor on Monday, saying they expected better communication.

“Some said that there was a meeting on Monday, and there was no mention of the work that happened on Thursday,” said Capone. “Obviously that impacts residents and businesses. That was compounded by the fact that there was no communication to the City Council. It would have been nice as the representative of the areas to know what was going to happen.”

Encore’s Al Carrier said they would start back up on the Robin and Dexter project when the weather breaks and would look to go about five days a week with the work. It is expected to be completed in late May.

In other Wynn news:

•DeSalvio said they were at a high of about 1,600 workers per day on the site last month, and are now scaling down to about 1,200 per day. That number will get smaller in the coming months as work begins to wind down.

•Councilor Mike Marchese said he would like to begin working with Encore to figure out what ethical restrictions will be on councilors and City officials in regard to the casino when it opens.

“That’s coming very soon, so I’d like to know what kind of ethical requirements we have as councilors – whether we can go to the casino and what we can and can’t do,” he said.

John Tocco of Encore said they were willing to do a pre-opening legal review and bring in the Ethics Commission for some specialized training on the matter. There are some restrictions for various officials, and those would be detailed by Ethics.

•DeSalvio said they are contemplating a pedestrian bridge over Lower Broadway, but that wouldn’t come until several years later if, and when, a development occurs on the other side of the street.

The bridge has been a point of contention at the Planning Board and City Council for some time, and Encore officials have consistently said they plan to have one, but not until there is a building on the other side.

“We are not currently building any sort of overpass on the road because we haven’t developed what would be on the other side and how a bridge would connect and go across,” he said. “We have put in extra footings by the side and those footings would support a new bridge coming out of the existing building and over Broadway and into an adjacent building next door. I can’t connect that over now because I don’t know what will be over there yet.”

He said they have committed to having staff in place when the casino opens to help shepherd people across Lower Broadway. That way they don’t have to rely on the signals during the newness rush of the property in the early going.

•Councilor Michael McLaughlin asked for an update on the liquor licenses, and DeSalvio said they have not yet applied for the 4 a.m. extension that is available from the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC). The regular liquor license will have a 2 a.m. closing, but a 4 a.m. extension license is possible for serving alcohol on the gaming floor only to patrons that are in the act of gaming.

There would be no restaurants or bars allowed to serve until 4 a.m. though.

He said they are considering that extension, but have not formally applied.

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