The City and its partners received more than $1 million in community mitigation grants from the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) last week – with one of them unlocking funds to design a key portion of the Assembly Row Station Head House, paving the way for the construction of the Mystic River Pedestrian/Cycle Bridge.
The MGC announced the award of approximately $4.1 million in Community Mitigation grants to several municipalities and other eligible entities across Massachusetts on July 18.
The gaming law created the Community Mitigation Fund to help entities offset costs related to the construction and operations of gaming establishments. The statute states that the Commission will issue funds to assist host and surrounding communities … “including, but not limited to, communities and water and sewer districts in the vicinity of a gaming establishment, local and regional education, transportation, infrastructure, housing, environmental issues and public safety, including the office of the county district attorney, police, fire, and emergency services.”
The Commission may also distribute funds to a governmental entity or district other than a single municipality in order to implement a mitigation measure that affects more than one community.
Since 2015, the MGC has awarded approximately $16 million in grants from the Community Mitigation Fund.
“The Community Mitigation Fund program highlights the Commonwealth’s commitment to not only maximize job creation and economic development, but also the Legislature’s strong mandate to mitigate any unintended consequences associated with the introduction of casinos,” said MGC Chair Cathy Judd-Stein. “The MGC is pleased to support communities in their efforts to address needs in transportation, tourism, workforce development and public safety. This latest funding initiative represents the continuation of our ongoing efforts to assess casino impacts and enhance the benefits of gaming.”
Everett received four grants in total – with two being transportation related, one related to public safety and the fourth an economic development program. The grants include:
•$400,000 towards permitting the head house, with Somerville.
•$425,000 towards design for Silver Line expansion, with Somerville.
•$182,080.90 to reimburse the City for costs of putting six police officers through the academy.
•$105,000 towards creating an “enterprise center” at Bunker Hill Community College to help upskill existing small businesses, with Chelsea.
The two most exciting grants are the transportation related grants.
The Head House grant supplements a previous grant the two cities were awarded last year and will allow them to develop full design/permit plans for the addition to the Assembly Row Station. That addition will allow passengers to enter the station from the back, which is now inaccessible. Having that portion designed and built will unlock millions pledged by Encore Boston Harbor to build the Mystic River pedestrian/cycle bridge.
The $425,000 for the Silver Line is another joint grant application with the City of Somerville to advance design of the Silver Line that would extend from the current terminus in Chelsea, through Everett and ultimately to Somerville and Cambridge, providing direct transit access for Everett residents to South Boston, Logan Airport, Sullivan Square and Kendall Square.
This grant also supplements $1 million budgeted by the MBTA for the same purpose. The City will be working with MassDOT and the MBTA to combine these funds and determine the route alignment and develop a conceptual design for the dedicated bus-way.
It will explore use of the Commuter Rail right-of-way as well as some on-street options that could include Second Street, Route 16 or Broadway.