Destination Everett: DeMaria Sees Amendment As Opening Blighted Area for 21st Century Uses

It was Everett Mayor Carlo DeMaria who offered a vision for the construction of the five-star Encore Boston Harbor Hotel and Casino in the city.

The mayor’s vision – what back then seemed like an impossibility – became a reality when Encore opened its doors on June 23, 2019.

In addition to totally transforming that unattractive brown field area into a property that is now breathtakingly grand and spectacular, DeMaria dramatically altered the city’s financial picture in a very positive way. Everett is receiving a $26 million payment from Encore this year as part of its annual hosting agreement.

Now the city’s chief executive is focusing his efforts on developing the waterfront property across the street from Encore.

The story about the incredible possibilities for that site began to emerge when State Rep. Dan Ryan offered an amendment that would allow for “the development of a sports, recreation, and events center” at the 173 Alford St. location. Ryan’s colleagues in the Mass. House of Representatives approved the legislation.

The story then exploded on the front page of Saturday’s Boston Globe, stating the passage of the legislation “could clear the way for Robert Kraft to build a long-sought soccer stadium.”

 In addition to being the owner of the six-time Super Bowl champion New England Patriots, Kraft is the owner of the New England Revolution soccer team that plays in Major League Soccer (MLS). There have been frequent published reports that the Kraft family would consider building a soccer-specific stadium in the Greater Boston area, with Wonderland Park in Revere, Suffolk Downs in East Boston, and Assembly Row in Somerville all being mentioned as potential homes for the Revolution. In fact, Revolution Drive in Somerville’s Assembly Row is reportedly a nod to the notion that the team was headed to that city at one point.

The Greater Boston area is considered a hot bed of soccer, with many members of the Revolution’s ardent fan base living in nearby communities.

And anyone who has followed the Patriots organization under the leadership of Kraft and his family knows that a new and dynamic soccer stadium built in Everett would be an amazing economic and recreational boost for the entire area. It would not be out of the realm of possibility that the Kraft family would offer its facility for use by the MIAA for its soccer state championship games, just as the Kraft family has graciously done with MIAA Super Bowl games, which have been conducted at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro.

There would be many part-time jobs (ushers, food service personnel, security officers, etc.) at the new stadium, not to mention Everett becoming the designation center of the New England soccer universe with a first-class Kraft-built stadium located across the street from the world-class resort/casino.

“Everett has the chance to build a better future that gives our residents the benefits they deserve. The sale of the former ExxonMobil parcel and the sale of the currently unused portions of the Constellation Energy site leading into the city finally give our community the chance for the best and highest uses of that land to bring new job opportunities, a public transit infrastructure to benefit all our residents and a cleaned up waterfront that supports multiple public and recreational uses that are better for the environment,” said Mayor Carlo DeMaria. “If not changed the current ‘Designated Port Area’ designation doesn’t support this vision because it only encourages more of the same type of uses the area currently has. Everett deserves better than that and I refuse to let anyone tell us that we need to settle,”  DeMaria added.

The Everett Independent reached out to the Kraft Group for a statement, but the Kraft Group had not responded as of press time.

Rep. Ryan’s Statement on the Amendment

 Dan Ryan, who will begin representing that area of Everett in January, 2023, addressed the soccer stadium issue in the following statement that he released Tuesday:

“The proposed Alford Street amendment was not submitted specifically for a soccer stadium. The amendment’s intent is to bring commerce and people together along a piece of the waterfront that has been closed off to the public for at least a generation.’  

‘With the Mystic Generating Station coming off-life in 2024, there is an opportunity to envision something that is more inviting than what was there before. We can do this while still providing jobs, recreation, and economic opportunity. An entertainment or sports venue is just one of many possibilities. Whatever the future holds for this part of Greater Boston, none of these ideas work without the proper roadways, transit and environmental enhancements to protect our neighborhoods.’

‘This proposed amendment is just one piece of many discussions in this vast area along lower Broadway. We have a long way to go before any proposals become real. I will continue to work with municipal, state and federal officials along with residents and other stakeholders to envision a future for our communities that focuses on these areas that have been ignored for far too long. This is the beginning of a conversation—not the end.’ 

McGonagle, Campbell Also React to Amendment

State Rep. Joseph McGonagle and Conservation Law Foundation President Brad Campbell also spoke about the amendment that would allow Everett to be exempted from waterfront regulations to build a new soccer stadium.

“It could be a great opportunity to transform Everett’s waterfront, but it is very early on in the process and there are a lot of factors that need to be worked through like traffic changes, environmental impact, feasibility etc.,” said McGonagle. “I look forward to the public input process and how this space can be best utilized for our community.”

 Campbell, leader of the environmental advocacy organization that is based in New England, told the Independent, “This is exactly the kind of backroom, dead-of-night legislative mischief that breeds mistrust in government. Making this change without any community or stakeholder input would wipe away fundamental protections of the public interest that have been in place literally for centuries. Rather than cutting a sweetheart deal in the dead of night, legislators should open this proposal up for public scrutiny.”

DeMaria has steadfastly maintained that any project would require community input before a proposal is accepted.

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