Steve Wynn Will Use Oysters to Clean the Mystic River If He Wins Casino License
In one of the oddest-sounding negotiating ploys in recent casino gambling history, Wynn Resorts has offered to use more than 250,000 live oysters to clean up the contaminated Mystic River. The oyster plan would be enacted if Wynn Resorts wins the licensing rights for a proposed $1.6 billion casino in Everett.
Steve Wynn’s gaming company and the Mohegan Sun currently have competing plans to build a casino in the eastern Massachusetts. After a plan fell through for a Boston-Revere casino development, Mohegan Sun is moving ahead with plans for a casino in Revere. Meanwhile, Wynn Resorts has jumped through legal hoops in order to purchase land in the adjacent community of Everett, where it hopes to build its own casino project.
The Massachusetts Oyster Project
In truth, Steve Wynn’s plan sounds a lot stranger than it really is. Whether Wynn Resorts helps or not, there is an initiative in the making for the nonprofit Massachusetts Oyster Project. Similar river clean-up projects have been successful in New York City and in Chesapeake Bay, Maryland. The innovation Steve Wynn offers is to make his company a partner with the nonprofit organization, which would make the oyster project the first of its kind as part of a private commercial deal.
Robert DeSalvio, SVP of Wynn Development, said to reporters, “[Our] commitment goes above and beyond what is required by law, and will convert a contaminated former chemical plant site into a public waterfront gem that everyone can enjoy.”
DeSalvio pitted the coming casino development as part of a wider plan to rejuvenate the area around Everett. He added, “The Everett waterfront has been locked out of public use for more than a century. We’re going to open it up in grand fashion and create a spectacular esplanade that will be brimming with activity all year long. Our waterfront will be a crowning jewel of our resort.”
How Oyster Purification Works
The Massachusetts Oyster Project, an all-volunteer organization which hopes to clean up the state’s rivers and estuaries, has some astounding statistics to back up their initiative. One single oyster can filter up to 30 gallons of water per day.
If the realistic number of 250,000 oysters were added to the Mystic River, they could purify 7.5 million gallons of water per day. The Mystic River, which flows past where the new Wynn Casino would be placed, would be cleansed of many impurities in a natural and ecologically sustainable way.
Wynn Resorts’ Part of the Plan
If Wynn Resorts partnered with the project, they would provide funding to create beds of recycled oyster shells on the bottom of the river. Then live oysters would be placed on the beds to created oyster reefs.
This would create a “living shoreline”, which would be used to rejuvenate the Mystic River by reintroducing over 100 species of fish and wildlife species which live off the oysters. Wynn Resorts would spend $30 million on the project. Also included would be a viewing deck, a year-round indoor winter garden, a picnic park, and a waterfront dining area. Included in the regenerated land would be retail shopping and a water ferry and taxi service, along with the boat dock to accommodate the ferry.
Steve Wynn’s Comments
Steve Wynn said he hopes to create a “public waterfront gem” where there is now a contaminated waterway. Wynn noted that the area, in the early 19th century, was home to the W. Atwood Company oyster farm. The farm supplies oysters to the Atwood Oyster House, known now as the Union Oyster House–the oldest restaurant in the USA.
Rival Mohegan Sun Plan
The Mohegan Sun has taken a different tack in trying to woo the Massachusetts Gaming Commission, which decides on the single Boston-area casino license this fall. The Mohegan Sun wants to bring a casino to Suffolk Downs in Revere, which would help rejuvenate the waning horse racing industry in the area. Both plans would create in excess of 1,000 jobs.
The two-year casino licensing process has been full of twists and turns so far. In 2011, Massachusetts voters approved a single casino license for the Boston metropolitan area. The Massachusetts Gaming Commission narrowed the choices down to Mohegan Sun and Wynn Resorts, but Caesars Entertainment sued the gaming commission’s chairman, claiming a conflict of interest. Wynn’s land purchase was barred, due to one of the land owner’s criminal past. Meanwhile, the Mohegan Sun’s Boston/Revere plan failed, when Boston-area voters decided they didn’t want a casino in their city.
Now, a last-minute vote will take place in Boston, which will decide whether to cancel the 2011 vote which approved the casino license in the first place. If the plan survives, then either Wynn Resorts or Mohegan Sun (but only one) will be the happy owners of a lucrative new casino monopoly in one of America’s largest cities.
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