Casino Advisory Committee Holds First Meeting

Architects Elkus Manfredi’s rendering of the proposed casino at Suffolk Downs. The plan, unveiled to the public Tuesday, includes a $1 billion investment to build a 300-room hotel, a 200,000 sq. ft. casino gaming facility, entertainment and nightclub venues, up to 10 restaurants.

Mayor Thomas Menino’s Host Community Advisory Committee met for the first time last Thursday at City Hall to begin the process of hearing from residents on what sort of mitigation they would like to see if a casino is approved at Suffolk Downs in East Boston.

While the committee is still in its infancy the meeting gave those who attended an overview of the goals and authority of the committee, the expertise of individual members and discussed the best way to bring the committee into the neighborhood for future meetings.

Small number of people attended.

The Committee’s Chair, Brian Leary, opened the meeting by discussing the future role the committee will play if a casino license is granted in Eastie.

Leary, who has family that lives in Eastie, said the committee main goal is to ensure the interests of the residents, families, businesses, and visitors of Boston are the utmost priority throughout all efforts to establish a resort casino in the City of Boston.

“Our goal is to get a sense of the needs and concerns in communities like East Boston as we go forward,” said Leary. “We know that there are going to be concerns for example in the Orient Heights area with traffic impacts and such so we want to hear from people there on what they would like to see to mitigate those impacts.”

The Mayor’s Eastie pick to sit on the committee, Sarah Barnat, said that backgrounds lends itself to addressing community needs through her work on past development projects here.

“One of the greatest things about East Boston is there are already a lot of pieces already in place like great parks, mitigation from Massport and good transportation so a lot of hard pieces are in place,” said Barnat. “The areas I’m concerned about are safety and making sure our officers at District-7 have what they need going forward so they do not become overwhelmed if a casino is built here. I also know that the recent destabilization of home values are a concern and I want to look into how a casino might impact that and if there are programs to stabilize home values and make sure East Boston continues to rise and gets that kind of support.”

East Boston resident Mary Berninger said although she leans towards not supporting a casino in her neighborhood she wants to remain open minded and involved in the process.

“I’m trying to be fair because if a casino does come to East Boston and we are not able to craft something that benefits the entire neighborhood then we will miss an opportunity to get what we want out of the deal,” said Berninger.

Cut lines,

The Host Community Advisory Committee’s Chair, Brian Leary and Mayor Thomas Menino’s East Boston pick to sit on the committee, Sarah Barnat during last weeks meeting at City Hall.

East Boston resident Mary Berninger addresses the committee at last week’s hearing.

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