By Mike McLaughlin
I will never forget that cold Monday night in November of 2012 as I walked out onto the sidewalk of City Hall to talk with our Fire Department, who was picketing out front at the time. I would never imagine what was going to lay in front of me at that point. A reporter from Fox 25 News greeted me and told me how an individual by the name of Steve Wynn would be coming to our community later that week to view a site on Lower Broadway for potential development for the Region A casino license.
I had never heard of Steve Wynn and absolutely knew nothing about a casino at that point. I remember doing an interview with Fox 25 that evening and I still remember how nervous and anxious I felt. In the coming days leading up to Steve Wynn’s visit with the mayor, I quickly did as much homework as I could to understand what a casino would mean for our community. After speaking with my dearest friend, Anthony DeInnocentis, and hundreds of residents, Mayor Carlo DeMaria quickly opened the door of communication with the members of the elected body. He held small group meetings with several Councilor’s to explain to them about his meeting with Steve Wynn and what this potential casino could mean for our community. I hesitated at first to get on board until I understood fully what this project could mean for the residents of our community. After understanding the benefits that it would bring through Economic Development, Taxes, Jobs and putting Everett back on the map, I quickly committed to doing all I could to see this project become successful. I did not just sit on the sidelines and wait to see how this would play out; I quickly rolled up my sleeves and got to work hearing immediately about this group called Everett United that was formed to help lead the ballot initiative City-wide.
I knew this was an opportunity for me to get actively involved and make a change for our community. I spent the next several months going door-to-door talking with thousands of our residents on a daily basis about why I believed this was right for Everett and what it could mean for them in their quality of life. Along with Councilors Anthony DiPierro, John Hanlon, School Committeeman Frank Parker and former Councilor Mike Mangan, we helped lead the path at times daily, as volunteers helping bring the most positive and unquestioned greatest opportunity not only for Everett, but also that the Commonwealth of Massachusetts has seen. Encore Boston Harbor is the most successful signal phase construction project we have seen ever in this state. Encore Boston Harbor has changed the face of Everett and Greater Boston forever as we know it. The opportunities it brought with it has helped change the lives of the people who are my bosses – the residents of Everett. It has absolutely come with its ups and downs – that is for sure – and there are more of those to come I am positive.
It brought a group of volunteers from Everett together to work for one common goal and that was to help bring better days for our community one household and business at a time. I couldn’t be more proud to say since very early on, I was a supporter of this project and a founding member of Everett United.
We have seen so much happen since that time.
So many changes, and some sadness in the passing of some of our core supporters and friends. We have seen Everett change before our eyes and most definitely we’ve seen Encore change. After countless meetings, news interviews, events, two ballot questions (not only in our community but a Statewide ballot initiative), Encore Boston Harbor has crossed the final hurdles and this brings us all to the week we have waited so long for and that’s opening week of this amazing $2.6 billion resort.
I had so often thought about what this week would look like for our community, Everett United, my friends and family and myself. I had hoped we as a community would be celebrating as a whole. I am proud of the focus, effort and determination that I had the opportunity to provide to see this development become a reality. Still fully understanding that we have issues lingering regarding parking and traffic, I’m 100 percent committed to continuing to work with our elected leaders, residents and business owners across the community to continue to usher in success and resolve issues as they arise. Sunday, June 23, is the opening of Encore Boston Harbor, but it is absolutely the day of the greatest change our city has ever seen. This being said, contrary to the popular belief, it is just the beginning. It is an honor for me to be the local city councilor and to continue to work closely through my relationships with Encore Boston Harbor to be a voice for the residents and business owners as we enter this new chapter in Everett’s History.
Mike McLaughlin is the Ward 6 Councilor