Guest Op-Ed: Unlocking the Potential of Everett

By Carlo DeMaria

Everett is a community with tremendous potential.  Like many of my fellow residents, I have always known this about my beloved hometown.

There is a beautiful view from my office in City Hall. There are amazing sunsets that highlight the skyline. This view also highlights the obvious distinctions between Everett’s skyline that is still dotted with twentieth-century industrial tank farms in stark comparison to the gleaming glass buildings that have risen from development opportunities available in other communities.

I have been transparent for more than ten years in my advocacy to generate interest in new projects that will transform defunct, contaminated, blighted industrial eyesores that have served for too long as reminders about the historic limits on what others thought was possible in Everett.

There is the potential to locate a professional soccer stadium along the Everett waterfront on the site of a power plant that is in the process of being fully decommissioned in 2024. It is a potential project because projects like this are a multi-phased effort. Legislation is needed to unlock this potential because the site currently is considered a Designated Port Area (DPA). This law was intended to prevent the overdevelopment of waterfront areas to the detriment of maritime industries. The law has served an important purpose in the Commonwealth. But it currently is preventing an environmental justice community from realizing the benefits of a project that will remediate a contaminated industrial site and transform the Everett waterfront with an environmentally sound, publicly-accessible use that will generate increased revenue to support critical needs in our community.

Is this a big proposal? It certainly is. Is it necessary? Absolutely. The Encore casino project proved that it takes a substantial development effort to clean up contaminated former industrial sites and transform them into modern revenue generating opportunities.

The removal of the DPA designation for this site does not remove a possible stadium project from the public processes of state and local permitting. Creating the possibility for this project opens up the potential for public discussions about the issues that are important to Everett, neighboring communities, and the Commonwealth. This project would have limited parking availability that can be leveraged to advance the investment in the critical expansion of public transit with additional bus rapid transit lanes, the extension of the Silver Line, and the pedestrian bridge across the Mystic River to connect with MBTA service at Assembly Row until Everett finally gets its own rail service. Creating a viable public transit system that our residents desperately deserve has been the focus of development in Everett.

It isn’t a secret how much I believe in Everett’s potential. The work we have done on the Northern Strand bike path and to increase access to clean and revitalized areas along the Mystic and Malden Rivers is evidence of my support for publicly -accessible open space. It also is no secret that I support environmentally friendly projects that create union construction jobs and increase future employment options for Everett residents. The fact is that new development projects are needed to replace tax revenue that is being lost currently because of the dwindling days of a nearly defunct power plant.  These are all important purposes that I know my fellow elected local and state leaders all support.

The time has come for the rest of the Commonwealth to realize what I have always known about Everett. We are a city of pride, progress, and possibilities. We need to rethink the laws that inhibit our ability to tear down the smoke stacks that still line our waterfront so we can deconstruct the limits on Everett’s potential. 

Carlo DeMaria currently serves as the Mayor of the City of Everett. He has served in this role since 2009.

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