By Darren Costa
The current Rivergreen waterfront development proposal in Everett needs more oversight and consideration before it can be approved. Our City certainly needs more housing, but we cannot afford to continue developing haphazardly. We can and should consider our community along the way.
Here are my suggested considerations to get this project up and running properly, which include flooding protections, public space, transportation and traffic, affordable housing, accountability and ongoing support. I recently expressed these concerns during the Planning Board meeting on September 5th because our City and its residents deserve consideration while we create the future of Everett’s unique river walk.
First, let me acknowledge that I am a City Councilor representing Ward 3 and this project sits in Ward 6. That said, I am always concerned about the well-being of our entire City. Poorly planned overdevelopment affects us all. That’s why I’ve been working tirelessly to amend outdated zoning laws in our Business District, which apply to all Wards in Everett. We should approach every development project with the same level of scrutiny and consideration, regardless of its location, and build a strong community that we all can enjoy.
This project sits directly between water and even more water. We already know that rising water and ever-stronger storm fronts are an issue. So the project must be designed to protect residents from flooding and other wastewater issues. Ensuring that our new development is environmentally responsible and resilient is not a matter of choice; it’s an obligation. We cannot compromise on the safety and well-being of our residents.
It would be tragic to take our community’s gorgeous, unique asset — the riverfront — blocked away from residents because of privatization. Other large cities have truly prioritized river access for their communities and are spending millions of dollars to revitalize these areas, and require all new developments to include more green space and public access. We should do the same. Members of our community should not be excluded.
Transportation and Traffic
The Transportation Demand Management (TDM) plan is essential to this project, particularly because our ordinance requires fewer parking spaces intended to reduce congestion. We need to anticipate and address potential transportation challenges before the project is approved. Issues will surely arise otherwise. For example, how will Santilli Circle be affected? We must consider the needs of our Gateway City and prioritize public safety and transportation efficiency. We can collaborate with the state and other developments to create a safer, more integrated City. (Note: We also need to improve our application and public hearing process for development in Everett, but I’ll explain that another day…)
The developer’s failure to meet the required 15% of affordable units should be a non-starter. We absolutely cannot afford to compromise on our commitment to affordable housing in Everett. Why would any developer doing business in our City think they can just ignore our requirements? Any development of this scale should meet — and exceed — our affordable housing requirements, not fall short. Let us not forget, this property is owners by Wynn, the parent company of Encore Boston Harbor.
In conclusion, I currently share the disappointment expressed during the Planning Board meeting regarding the Rivergreen development. It’s imperative that we require the developer to properly address flooding, submit a comprehensive TDM plan and meet our affordable housing requirements to mitigate the impacts of this development effectively. We must advocate for a more thoughtful and equitable approach that prioritizes the needs and well-being of our residents. We are starting to do it with the Wynn Host Agreement renegotiation and this property should be considered in that discussion.
This project should symbolize progress, sustainability, and community, not compromise our values as a City. Our future depends on making the right decisions today, and I am committed to ensuring Everett’s waterfront truly serves everyone, regardless of Ward boundaries. We deserve better.
Darren Costa is a Ward 3 City Councilor