Year in Review:A Look at the People and Events of 2015

December 31, 2015
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There were hundreds of stories to remember over the past year in Everett, but a handful stick out as major pieces of news.

Below are five stories that dominated the headlines for Everett in 2015, and a few honorable mentions that couldn’t be left out.

Here’s to a healthy, and interesting, 2016 on the horizon.

  1. Wynn Everett casino Gets Approvals, Starts Cleanup

There was no story in Everett this year more important than the progress of the Wynn Everett casino on the former Monsanto Chemical property at Lower Broadway. In January, Wynn officials and Mayor Carlo DeMaria announced that the company had officially purchased the land for $35 million. That was followed up by a review of the new exterior designs at the Massachusetts Gaming Commission, a building design called ‘iconic.’ Later in the year, Wynn began purchasing land along Lower Broadway to start the process of building out the facility and its accompanying pieces – including a controversial Everett-only access point that came through a purchase of MBTA property, which some contested unsuccessfully. In the summer, Wynn began seeking local approvals from the City of Everett, which diligently reviewed thousands of pages of plans with the help of outside consultants. The Planning Board granted a Special Permit at the end of the summer. Meanwhile, the state environmental process, MEPA, dragged on most of the year due to traffic concerns in Charlestown. However, Wynn finally was able to gain a MEPA certificate from the state in late August. In September, Wynn officials and Everett officials/supporters gathered on the site to bid adieu to the old contaminated site and welcome in the environmental cleanup crew. Finally, late in the fall, the cleanup/remediation efforts began and are still ongoing.

  1. Wynn, Everett, Boston, Revere, Somerville and the MGC Lock Horns in Court

Lawsuits regarding the Wynn Everett casino flourished in 2015, giving hope to those opposed to the casino and giving frustration to Everett residents who support the project in huge numbers. In January, the City of Boston filed a lawsuit against the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) to dispute the casino award to Wynn. Boston joined other lawsuits by Revere, Mohegan Sun, the IBEW Union and Somerville in suing the MGC. Later in the year, a group of opponents filed a taxpayer lawsuit that mostly contested a sale of MBTA property to Wynn for a key access point.

The lawsuits wound their way through the courts, with the Boston suit garnering a huge amount of drama and attention with its numerous scandalous accusations and it addition of hundreds of pages of amended complaints in May.

Boston later began to warm up to the Wynn folks in face-to-face meetings, but still refused to participate in traffic discussions and, in September, filed another lawsuit to contest the environmental (MEPA) approvals awarded to Wynn in August – only a few days after meeting face to face. That sparked a heavy defamation lawsuit filed by Wynn’s California attorney that accused the City of promulgating boldfaced lies within its lawsuit.

Throughout all of it, Everett Mayor Carlo DeMaria and Everett United officials call on Boston to work with Wynn, saying it’s “Everett’s time.” Everett United members even head into Boston with signs to protest the continued lawsuit on Boston’s City Hall Plaza.

In December, however, a Suffolk Superior Court judge puts a supposed end to it all by dismissing the Boston, Revere, Mohegan Sun and IBEW lawsuits.

  1. Snowmageddon!

The winter in 2015 started out rather mild, until the last week of January came and Juno the Blizzard opened up Pandora’s snow shovel.

The Juno Blizzard brought about 24 inches of snow to Everett, and left everyone in a good mood. However, after three consecutive weekend/Monday blizzards that dropped some 60 more inches on the City, no one was smiling.

Snow plows were tested in their ability to move snow; local businesses were crippled as 12-foot snowbanks along the business districts took away parking and drove away customers; residents were checking into the emergency room in great numbers with snow related injuries; and in a little over one month, we had set an all-time record for snowfall in a winter.

On March 14, another three inches of snow hit Everett and pushed the overall total to 108.6 inches – a new record. It was one inch more than the previous record in 1995-1996, but came within a span of just six weeks.

  1. Terrorism Comes to Everett…nearly

A Linden Street resident David Wright is brought up on Federal Court terrorism charges when his nephew, Usaamah Abdullah Rahim of Roslindale, is stopped before he can carry out a terrorism attack in Boston.

On June 2, the Roslindale man was speaking with Wright on the phone about a plan that the two men, and a Rhode Island man, had concocted. They had come up with a premeditated plot to behead Pamela Geller, the woman who hosted the Prophet Muhammad cartoon contest in Texas last summer, in New York City. The plotted, allegedly, how to carry it out and purchased weapons that could accomplish the deed. However, allegedly, during the conversation on June 2, Rahim told Wright that he had decided not to behead Geller, but rather to get on the bus and kill the first police officers he saw.

The Boston Police, Everett Police and FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force were aware of the plot, however, and foiled it before it started, shooting and killing Rahim in Boston as he waited for a bus. Then, the full force of law enforcement descended upon Everett’s Linden Street. Wright was arrested and arraigned on federal charges.

The case is still ongoing.

Everett Police indicate that Wright was completely unknown to them and totally off the radar. He had not so much gotten a parking or traffic ticket in Everett, police said.

The event has become all the more poignant in Everett after the shootings in San Bernardino where two off-the-radar terrorists perpetrated a similar kind of attack that Wright and the other two men had allegedly hoped to also pull off.

  1. City Election Proves Interesting

The City Election in November 2015 didn’t include a mayoral race, but there was still plenty of drama that unfolded.

In the at-large race, a crowded field was whittled down to a group of highly qualified candidates vying for only a few seats. A major surprise was the return of political veteran Wayne Matewsky, who topped that at-large ticket. John Hanlon, Richard Dell Isola, Michael Mangan and Peter Napolitano rounded out the at-large field. Political veteran Cynthia Sarnie fell just short, as did popular newcomer Dan Skerritt.

One of the biggest wins came when two young men under 30 defeated two veteran politicians. In Ward 3, Councillor Michael Marchese lost to Anthony DiPierro. In Ward 6, Councillor Sal Sachetta lost to Michael McLaughlin.

A very notable win came with Ward 4 Councillor John Leo McKinnon easily beat back a still challenge from Carmine DeMaria, Mayor Carlo DeMaria’s brother.

The election saw many familiar faces lose their seats, many new faces take their posts and the return of some political veterans to the Council.

Also in the News

  • The Wailers (of Bob Marley fame) came to Everett for a huge concert on Sept. 19 at Village Fest near Santilli Circle.
  • After several delays due to snow, hundreds of residents join elected officials for the grand re-opening of the historic Shute Library on May 7.
  • The Batch Yard luxury loft residential development on Lower Broadway in the old Charleston Chew factory completes its third and final phase of construction in March. Leasing is brisk already.
  • A massive homecoming celebration and parade draws thousands to Everett in a day that served as a tribute to the late Dan Ross and his family. Ross was a standout football player in Everett and played professional football for the Cincinnati Bengals.
  • The Colonna Family, long time residents of Everett, donate a 40-foot Spruce tree from their front yard to the City to serve as this year’s official City Christmas Tree. It is placed in Everett Square just after Thanksgiving.
  • A statewide contingent of hundreds of law enforcement professionals turn out in Everett’s Woodlawn Cemetery to pay respect in the wake of the tragic and sudden death of Officer Glen Briley, 44, who died of natural causes while on patrol Dec. 9.
  • Everett’s new star Quarterback Marvens Fedna is critically stabbed on the streets of Everett Halloween night by unknown assailants while on his way home. The incident came the same day that Fedna had led the Crimson Tide to an historic playoff win over St. John’s Prep via an innovative, yet obscure, strategy unveiled by Coach John DiBiaso. The perpetrator of the stabbing is arrested more than a month later.