Town Gets a Mitigation Boost:Foundation Needs to be Established for Massport Funds

Last Tuesday the town got a couple of surprises, one that the mitigation money from MassPort has increased, and two that the foundation needed to spend $2.5 million given to the town was never set up.

In June 2016, the Speaker of the House Robert DeLeo worked with Massport to obtain a $2.5 million from the Terminal E expansion project mitigation fund. In order to spend the money a non-profit foundation had to be set up.

The foundation was never set up and never formally voted on by the council.

But there’s a silver lining. The Winthrop Foundation will get $2.5 million in mitigation money from the Terminal E expansion, as well as an increase in the payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT) program the town has with Massaport.

For FY19 the town will receive a total PILOT payment from MassPort of $1.2 million; FY20, $1,350,000; FY21, $1.5 million; FY22, $1,650,000; FY23 $1.8 million; FY24$1.9 million and FY25, $2 million. Prior to this package the regularly expected annual mitigation payment to the town was $900,000.

Besides putting up with the noise and pollution, Winthrop owns several acres of land that helps makes up Logan Airport and the town has always sought mitigation.

In the meeting of the Town Council, before the Fall Forum last Tuesday, Town Council President Ron Vecchia said he was unsure of why the foundation wasn’t set up. Since that time there have been three town managers, three accountants, three council presidents and new blood on the town council.

“I requested the Town Manager have it reviewed by our legal counsel and move to have our council approve,” Vecchia said. “I’m excited to get the much-needed PILOT program.”

Town Manager Austin Faison said the foundation to be filled will include seven members from the community, two appointed by the town manager, one by the Town Council president, one by the superintendent of schools, one from Boncore’s office, one from Speaker DeLeo’s office and one from Massport.  The positions will be filled by next month when the foundation board meets.

State Sen. Joe Boncore said the town had renegotiated with Massport in what he called a rare opportunity in the mitigation contract. By looking into the monies Boncore said the situation with the Winthrop Foundation came up.

“MassPort is not going anywhere, there will always be negotiation,” Boncore said. “We set this friendship on the right track.”

“I think this is a step in the right direction,” said Pre. 3 Councilor Nick LoConte. “But this agreement doesn’t do anything to address the noise issues, especially in Point Shirley and other areas particularly impacted by the airport. It’s not a matter of money it’s what woke me up at 6 a.m. this morning. I’m glad to see the extra financial component to this mitigation, I’m more upset this doesn’t address the reduction of noise.”

“This is twice as much money as in 2025,” Fiason said.

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