City updates East Boston community on Suffolk Downs' casino plans

The city of Boston is asking for a rigorous environmental review of a proposed casino at East Boston's Suffolk Downs, according to a letter to the East Boston community sent out earlier this week. The letter was dated March 20 and signed by Elizabeth Dello Russo, executive director of a 5-member casino development advisory group set up by Mayor Thomas Menino in April 2012.

Suffolk Downs submitted an environmental notification form to state environmental officials in January. "The City has assembled a specialized team of City officials, independent consultants and subject matter experts to review this filing and the overall development," the letter said.

The letter adds:

The City and the community agree that traffic and transportation are a priority. With that in mind, the City is applying the highest standards to the developer's transportation plans, and asks that state do the same. The City has requested, and we recommend that the state also request from the developer:

 A detailed impact assessment and recommendations to protect the community from any potential impact;

 A detailed analysis of vehicular, pedestrian, bicycle and boat access connections to the site;

 An analysis on the MBTA, including availability of service and station improvements;

 An overall comprehensive parking study; and

 A detailed construction management and demand management plan.

As a leader in environmental sustainability and energy efficiency, the City is encouraged by Suffolk Downs’ pledge for a particularly green development, including new plans to reduce pavement by 30% and transform current asphalt in to natural landscape. At the same time, the City has very high environmental standards. Therefore, the City asks that the state also request from the developer environmental material and studies in many areas, including the following:

 Detailed consideration of energy and water conservation and alternative energy measures;

 Use of sustainable building materials;

 Detailed evaluation of local and regional air quality impacts, and information on soil and hazardous materials;

 Information on stormwater management, sea level rise, and storm surge preparedness.

 In all of these areas, the City suggests that the developer consider impacts for the construction period as well as future effects.

The letter is available here as a PDF.

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